Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 27183613
J. Immunol. 2016 Jun;196(11):4731-8
Group 3 innate lymphoid cells (ILC3) actively participate in mucosal defense and homeostasis through prompt secretion of IL-17A, IL-22, and IFN-γ. Reports identify two ILC3 lineages: a CCR6(+)T-bet(-) subset that appears early in embryonic development and promotes lymphoid organogenesis and a CCR6(-)T-bet(+) subset that emerges after microbial colonization and harbors NKp46(+) ILC3. We demonstrate that NKp46 expression in the ILC3 subset is highly unstable. Cell fate mapping using Ncr1(CreGFP) × Rosa26(RFP) mice revealed the existence of an intestinal RFP(+) ILC3 subset (Ncr1(FM)) lacking NKp46 expression at the transcript and protein levels. Ncr1(FM) ILC3 produced more IL-22 and were distinguishable from NKp46(+) ILC3 by differential CD117, CD49a, DNAX accessory molecule-1, and, surprisingly, CCR6 expression. Ncr1(FM) ILC3 emerged after birth and persisted in adult mice following broad-spectrum antibiotic treatment. These results identify an unexpected phenotypic instability within NKp46(+) ILC3 that suggests a major role for environmental signals in tuning ILC3 functional plasticity.