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Annu Rev Immunol. 2019 Apr 26;37:47-72. doi: 10.1146/annurev-immunol-042718-041505. Epub 2018 Oct 31.

Tuft Cells-Systemically Dispersed Sensory Epithelia Integrating Immune and Neural Circuitry.

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Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143, USA; email: , ,
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.
University of California, San Francisco, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.


Tuft cells-rare solitary chemosensory cells in mucosal epithelia-are undergoing intense scientific scrutiny fueled by recent discovery of unsuspected connections to type 2 immunity. These cells constitute a conduit by which ligands from the external space are sensed via taste-like signaling pathways to generate outputs unique among epithelial cells: the cytokine IL-25, eicosanoids associated with allergic immunity, and the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. The classic type II taste cell transcription factor POU2F3 is lineage defining, suggesting a conceptualization of these cells as widely distributed environmental sensors with effector functions interfacing type 2 immunity and neural circuits. Increasingly refined single-cell analytics have revealed diversity among tuft cells that extends from nasal epithelia and type II taste cells to ex-Aire-expressing medullary thymic cells and small-intestine cells that mediate tissue remodeling in response to colonizing helminths and protists.


IL-25; POU2F3; TRPM5; chemosensation; tuft cells; type 2 immunity

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