Age- and Microbiota-Dependent Cell Stemness Plasticity Revealed by Cattle Cell Landscape

Research (Wash D C). 2023:6:0025. doi: 10.34133/research.0025. Epub 2023 Jan 13.


Newborn ruminants are considered functionally monogastric animals. The poor understanding of cellular differences between newborn and mature ruminants prevents the improvement of health and performance of domestic ruminants. Here, we performed the single-cell RNA sequencing on the rumen, reticulum, omasum, abomasum, duodenum, jejunum, ileum, cecum, colon, rectum, liver, salivary gland, and mammary gland from newborn and adult cattle. A comprehensive single-cell transcriptomic atlas covering 235,941 high-quality single cells and 78 cell types was deciphered. A Cattle Cell Landscape database ( was established to elaborately display the data and facilitate effective annotation of cattle cell types and subtypes for the broad research community. By measuring stemness states of epithelial cells in each tissue type, we revealed that the epithelial cells from newborn forestomach (rumen, reticulum, and omasum) were more transcriptionally indistinct and stochastic compared with the adult stage, which was in contrast to those of abomasum and intestinal tissues. The rapid forestomach development during the early life of calves was driven by epithelial progenitor-like cells with high DNA repair activities and methylation. Moreover, in the forestomach tissues of newborn calves, the Megasphaera genus was involved in regulating the transcriptional plasticity of the epithelial progenitor-like cells by DNA methylation regulation. A novel cell type, the STOML3+ cell, was found to be newborn-specific. It apparently plays a crucial role in stemness maintenance of its own and cholangiocytes in the hepatic microenvironment. Our results reveal that the age- and microbiota-dependent cell stemness plasticity drives the postnatal functional maturity of ruminants.