Seminars in Immunopathology

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 17–25 | Cite as

Commensal microbiota regulates T cell fate decision in the gut

  • Yukihiro Furusawa
  • Yuuki Obata
  • Koji HaseEmail author


Commensal microbiota shapes the intestinal immune system by regulating T helper (TH) cell lineage differentiation. For example, Bacteroides fragilis colonization not only optimizes the systemic TH1/TH2 balance, but also can induce regulatory T (Treg) cell differentiation in the gut. In addition, segmented filamentous bacteria (SFB) facilitate the development of TH17 cells in the small intestine. The 17 strains within clusters IV, XIVa, and XVIII of Clostridiales found in human feces can also induce the differentiation and expansion of Treg cells in the colon. Thus, the regulation of TH cell differentiation by commensal bacteria is evident; however, the molecular mechanisms underlying these processes remain uncertain. Recent studies have demonstrated that bacterial components, as well as their metabolites, play a central role in regulating TH cell development. Furthermore, these metabolites can elicit changes in histone posttranslational modification to modify the expression of critical regulators of T cell fate. In this review, we discuss the mechanisms and biological significance of microbiota-dependent TH differentiation.


Microbiota TH17 cells Regulatory T cells Histone modifications DNA methylation 



This work was supported in part with grants from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (24117723 to K.H. and 24890293 to Y.F.), the Japan Science and Technology Agency (K.H.), and the Ministry of Health Labour and Welfare (K.H.).

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interest to disclose.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical ScienceKeio UniversityTokyoJapan
  2. 2.The Institute of Medical ScienceThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Graduate School of MedicineChiba UniversityChibaJapan

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