Commensal bacteria weaken the intestinal barrier by suppressing epithelial neuropilin-1 and Hedgehog signaling.


Giulia Pontarollo, Bettina Kollar, Amrit Mann, My Phung Khuu, Klytaimnistra Kiouptsi, Franziska Bayer, Inês Brandão, Valeriya V Zinina, Jennifer Hahlbrock, Frano Malinarich, Maximilian Mimmler, Sudhanshu Bhushan, Federico Marini, Wolfram Ruf, Meriem Belheouane, John F Baines, Kristina Endres, Scott M Reba, Verena K Raker, Carsten Deppermann, Christoph Welsch, Markus Bosmann, Natalia Soshnikova, Benoit Chassaing, Mattias Bergentall, Felix Sommer, Fredrik Bäckhed, Christoph Reinhardt

Year of publication:






Journal (long):

Nature metabolism

Journal (short):

Nat Metab

Impact factor:



The gut microbiota influences intestinal barrier integrity through mechanisms that are incompletely understood. Here we show that the commensal microbiota weakens the intestinal barrier by suppressing epithelial neuropilin-1 (NRP1) and Hedgehog (Hh) signaling. Microbial colonization of germ-free mice dampens signaling of the intestinal Hh pathway through epithelial Toll-like receptor (TLR)-2, resulting in decreased epithelial NRP1 protein levels. Following activation via TLR2/TLR6, epithelial NRP1, a positive-feedback regulator of Hh signaling, is lysosomally degraded. Conversely, elevated epithelial NRP1 levels in germ-free mice are associated with a strengthened gut barrier. Functionally, intestinal epithelial cell-specific Nrp1 deficiency (Nrp1ΔIEC) results in decreased Hh pathway activity and a weakened gut barrier. In addition, Nrp1ΔIEC mice have a reduced density of capillary networks in their small intestinal villus structures. Collectively, our results reveal a role for the commensal microbiota and epithelial NRP1 signaling in the regulation of intestinal barrier function through postnatal control of Hh signaling.

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