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PROJECT SUMMARYIntestinal epithelial cells (IECs) that reside at the interface between the microbiota and diverse immune cellpopulations are critical for initiating and maintainingHowever, the mechanisms underlying how IECstissue-intrinsic defenses needed to quickly combat infection.orchestrate the dynamic cross-talk between microbiota,epithelial cells, and lymphocytes remain poorly defined. Epigenetic-modifying enzymes represent a powerful, butpoorly understood, interface by which mammalian cells can respond to microbial signals and regulate hostresponse. We recently identified that IEC deletion of the epigenetic regulator HDAC3 in utero inhibitedmicrobiota-dependent regulation of IECs and impaired activation of intestinal immune cells during infection.However, it remains unknown how HDAC3 in IECs actively governs intestinal immunity or sustains microbiota-sensitive defense against enteric infection. The goals of this proposal are to interrogate how differentiated andprogenitor IECs actively control intestinal immune cell dynamics and microbiota-sensitive pathways needed forantibacterial immunity through epigenetic regulation. Based on new preliminary findings, we hypothesize thatHDAC3 is an essential epithelial factor that (1) dynamically coordinates resident lymphocytes in the intestine and(2) primes short- and long-term IEC responsiveness to infection by integrating signals from the microbiota.Employing Citrobacter rodentium, a murine model of pathogenic human Escherichia coli infection, along with anexciting array of inducible transgenic mouse tools, germ-free mice, and human organoids, three specific aimsare proposed to investigate these hypotheses. We will (i) interrogate how active regulation of IECs by HDAC3directs tissue-resident lymphocyte dynamics and test how this epithelial-immune cell relationship ismechanistically controlled, (ii) directly examine how the microbiota promote epithelial antimicrobial secretionduring infection, and (iii) employ reporter mice to define whether epigenetic regulation of stem cells mediateshow the microbiota sustains long-term defense in the intestine. We will also translate our murine studies tohuman intestinal organoids to provide mechanistic insights on the role of HDAC3 and epigenetics in host-microbeinteractions in human intestine. This work will uncover novel mechanisms for how IECs integrate microbialsignals to instruct intestine-intrinsic immunity and guide design of next generation therapeutics that canepigenetically prime the intestine to effectively defend against enteric infections.

Alenghat, Theresa
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
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