In Situ Maturation and Tissue Adaptation of Type 2 Innate Lymphoid Cell Progenitors

Immunity. 2020 Oct 13;53(4):775-792.e9. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2020.09.002. Epub 2020 Sep 30.


Innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) are generated early during ontogeny and persist predominantly as tissue-resident cells. Here, we examined how ILCs are maintained and renewed within tissues. We generated a single cell atlas of lung ILC2s and found that Il18r1+ ILCs comprise circulating and tissue-resident ILC progenitors (ILCP) and effector-cells with heterogeneous expression of the transcription factors Tcf7 and Zbtb16, and CD103. Our analyses revealed a continuous differentiation trajectory from Il18r1+ ST2- ILCPs to Il18r- ST2+ ILC2s, which was experimentally validated. Upon helminth infection, recruited and BM-derived cells generated the entire spectrum of ILC2s in parabiotic and shield chimeric mice, consistent with their potential role in the renewal of tissue ILC2s. Our findings identify local ILCPs and reveal ILCP in situ differentiation and tissue adaptation as a mechanism of ILC maintenance and phenotypic diversification. Local niches, rather than progenitor origin, or the developmental window during ontogeny, may dominantly imprint ILC phenotypes in adult tissues.

Keywords: ILC2; ILCP; Innate lymphoid cells (ILC); Nippostrongylus Brasiliensis; bone marrow; immune system development; progenitors; single cell atlas; single-cell RNA-seq; tissue immunity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology*
  • Interleukin-18 Receptor alpha Subunit / immunology
  • Lung / immunology
  • Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Lymphoid Progenitor Cells / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Promyelocytic Leukemia Zinc Finger Protein / immunology
  • Signal Transduction / immunology
  • Single-Cell Analysis / methods
  • T Cell Transcription Factor 1 / immunology
  • Transcription Factors / immunology


  • Interleukin-18 Receptor alpha Subunit
  • Promyelocytic Leukemia Zinc Finger Protein
  • T Cell Transcription Factor 1
  • Transcription Factors