Bi-directional signaling between the intestinal epithelium and type-3 innate lymphoid cells regulates secretory dynamics and interleukin-22

Emily Read, Ainize Peña-Cearra, Diana Coman, Geraldine M Jowett, Matthew W H Chung, Isabelle Coales, Sofia Syntaka, Rachel E Finlay, Roser Tachó-Piñot, Sjoerd van Der Post, Umar Naizi, Luke B Roberts, Matthew R Hepworth, Michael A Curtis, Joana F Neves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Type-3 innate lymphoid cells (ILC3) respond to localized environmental cues to regulate homeostasis and orchestrate immunity in the intestine. The intestinal epithelium is an important upstream regulator and downstream target of ILC3 signaling, however, the complexity of mucosal tissues can hinder efforts to define specific interactions between these two compartments. Here, we employ a reductionist co-culture system of murine epithelial small intestinal organoids (SIO) with ILC3 to uncover bi-directional signaling mechanisms that underlie intestinal homeostasis. We report that ILC3 induce global transcriptional changes in intestinal epithelial cells, driving the enrichment of secretory goblet cell signatures. We find that SIO enriched for goblet cells promote NKp46+ ILC3 and interleukin (IL)-22 expression, which can feedback to induce IL-22-mediated epithelial transcriptional signatures. However, we show that epithelial regulation of ILC3 in this system is contact-dependent and demonstrate a role for epithelial Delta-Like-Canonical-Notch-Ligand (Dll) in driving IL-22 production by ILC3, via subset-specific Notch1-mediated activation of T-bet+ ILC3. Finally, by interfering with Notch ligand-receptor dynamics, ILC3 appear to upregulate epithelial Atoh1 to skew secretory lineage determination in SIO-ILC3 co-cultures. This research outlines two complimentary bi-directional signaling modules between the intestinal epithelium and ILC3, which may be relevant in intestinal homeostasis and disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalMucosal Immunology
Issue number1
Early online date10 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2024


  • Animals
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Interleukin-22
  • Intestinal Mucosa
  • Ligands
  • Lymphocytes
  • Mice
  • Receptors, Notch/metabolism


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