Gene regulatory mechanisms underlying the intestinal innate immune response

In the mammalian gastrointestinal tract, distinct types of cells, including epithelial cells and macrophages, collaborate to eliminate ingested pathogens while striving to preserve the commensal microbiota. The underlying innate immune response is driven by significant gene expression changes in each cell, and recent work has provided novel insights into the gene regulatory mechanisms that mediate such transcriptional changes. These mechanisms differ from those underlying the canonical cellular differentiation model in which a sequential deposition of DNA methylation and histone modification marks progressively restricts the chromatin landscape. Instead, inflammatory macrophages and intestinal epithelial cells appear to largely rely on transcription factors that explore an accessible chromatin landscape to generate dynamic stimulus-specific and spatial-specific physiological responses.

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