Regional differences in glycoconjugates of intestinal M cells in mice: potential targets for mucosal vaccines

Am J Physiol. 1994 Dec;267(6 Pt 1):G1108-21. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.1994.267.6.G1108.


We have used a panel of lectins and antibodies to describe the composition of complex carbohydrates associated with M cells in various regions of the intestinal tract of adult BALB/c mice. The fucose-specific lectin Ulex europaeus agglutinin type I (UEA I) is a marker of M cells in the small intestine and recognized M cells at an early stage of differentiation. Subpopulations of M cells in a single follicle-associated epithelium (FAE) could be distinguished by different fucose-specific probes. Certain lectins revealed that M cells have basal processes that extend into the underlying lymphoid tissue. Colonic and rectal M cells display glycosylation patterns distinct from M cells of Peyer's patches and are characterized by terminal galactose. UEA I selectively adhered to Peyer's patch M cells in mucosal explants and in ligated intestinal loops in vivo. The lectin was taken up into endocytic vesicles and transported to the intra-epithelial pocket and other domains of the basolateral membrane. Thus M cell-specific glycoconjugates could serve as "receptors" for targeting of lectin-antigen conjugates to the mucosal immune system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Binding Sites
  • Female
  • Fucose / metabolism
  • Glycoconjugates / analysis*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / chemistry*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / cytology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology*
  • Lectins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Plant Lectins*
  • Vaccines / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Glycoconjugates
  • Lectins
  • Plant Lectins
  • Ulex europaeus lectins
  • Vaccines
  • Fucose