Although many of the biological features of microfold cells (M cells) have been known for many years, the molecular mechanisms of M-cell development and antigen recognition have remained unclear. Here, we report that Umod is a novel M-cell-specific gene, the translation products of which might contribute to the uptake function of M cells. Transcription factor Spi-B was also specifically expressed in M cells among non-hematopoietic lineages. Spi-B-deficient mice showed reduced expression of most, but not all, other M-cell-specific genes and M-cell surface markers. Whereas uptake of Salmonella Typhimurium via M cells was obviously reduced in Spi-B-deficient mice, the abundance of intratissue cohabiting bacteria was comparable between wild-type and Spi-B-deficient mice. These data indicate that there is a small M-cell population with developmental regulation that is Spi-B independent; however, Spi-B is probably a candidate master regulator of M-cell functional maturation and development by another pathway.
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