PerspectiveImmunology

Innate lymphoid cells sweeten the pot

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Science  12 Sep 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6202, pp. 1248-1249
DOI: 10.1126/science.1259808

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Summary

Our intestines are brimming with a dense community of microorganisms that number in the trillions. This microbiota includes bacteria that metabolize dietary carbohydrates that would otherwise evade digestion. Although most gut bacteria are beneficial, problems can arise if the community changes dramatically or if bacteria invade deeper tissues. The intestine has therefore evolved strategies to control this ecosystem. One such strategy involves the synthesis of cell surface carbohydrate chains that can be used as a food source by the microbiota. On page 1310 of this issue, Goto et al. (1) show that specific immune cells trigger the synthesis of these carbohydrate chains in the epithelial lining of the intestine.