April 2020

Immunity. 2020;52:683-699.e11.

Chemosensory Cell-Derived Acetylcholine Drives Tracheal Mucociliary Clearance in Response to Virulence-Associated Formyl Peptides.

Perniss A, Liu S, Boonen B, Keshavarz M, Ruppert AL, Timm T, Pfeil U, Soultanova A, Kusumakshi S, Delventhal L, Aydin O, Pyrski M, Deckmann K, Hain T, Schmidt N, Ewers C, Gunther A, Lochnit G, Chubanov V, Gudermann T, Oberwinkler J, Klein J, Mikoshiba K, Leinders-Zufall T, Offermanns S, Schutz B, Boehm U, Zufall F, Bufe B, Kummer W.

Mucociliary clearance through coordinated ciliary beating is a major innate defense removing pathogens from the lower airways, but the pathogen sensing and downstream signaling mechanisms remain unclear. We identified virulence-associated formylated bacterial peptides that potently stimulated ciliary-driven transport in the mouse trachea. This innate response was independent of formyl peptide and taste receptors but depended on key taste transduction genes. Tracheal cholinergic chemosensory cells expressed these genes, and genetic ablation of these cells abrogated peptide-driven stimulation of mucociliary clearance. Trpm5-deficient mice were more susceptible to infection with a natural pathogen, and formylated bacterial peptides were detected in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Optogenetics and peptide stimulation revealed that ciliary beating was driven by paracrine cholinergic signaling from chemosensory to ciliated cells operating through muscarinic M3 receptors independently of nerves. We provide a cellular and molecular framework that defines how tracheal chemosensory cells integrate chemosensation with innate defense.