Colon mucus segregates the intestinal microbiota from host tissues, but how it organizes to function throughout the colon is unclear. In mice, we found that colon mucus consists of two distinct O-glycosylated entities of Muc2: A major form produced by the proximal colon, which encapsulates the fecal material including the microbiota, and a minor form derived from the distal colon, which adheres to the major form. The microbiota directs its own encapsulation by inducing Muc2 production from proximal colon goblet cells. In turn, O-glycans on proximal colon-derived Muc2 modulate the structure and function of the microbiota as well as transcription in the colon mucosa. Our work shows how proximal colon control of mucin production is an important element in the regulation of host-microbiota symbiosis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas