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Nat Immunol. 2004 Jun;5(6):569-73.

Getting a grip on things: how do communities of bacterial symbionts become established in our intestine?

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Department of Molecular Biology and Pharmacology and Center for Genome Sciences, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


The gut contains our largest collection of resident microorganisms. One obvious question is how microbial communities establish and maintain themselves within a perfused intestine. The answers, which may come in part from observations made by environmental engineers and glycobiologists, have important implications for immunologists who wish to understand how indigenous microbial communities are accommodated. Here we propose that the mucus gel layer overlying the intestinal epithelium is a key contributor to the structural and functional stability of this microbiota and its tolerance by the host.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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