DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.abq4341 ISSN: 2470-9468

A nasal cell atlas reveals heterogeneity of tuft cells and their role in directing olfactory stem cell proliferation

Saltanat Ualiyeva, Evan Lemire, Caitlin Wong, Alexander Perniss, Amelia A. Boyd, Evelyn C. Avilés, Dante G. Minichetti, Alice Maxfield, Rachel Roditi, Ichiro Matsumoto, Xin Wang, Wenjiang Deng, Nora A. Barrett, Kathleen M. Buchheit, Tanya M. Laidlaw, Joshua A. Boyce, Lora G. Bankova, Adam L. Haber
  • General Medicine
  • Immunology

The olfactory neuroepithelium serves as a sensory organ for odors and forms part of the nasal mucosal barrier. Olfactory sensory neurons are surrounded and supported by epithelial cells. Among them, microvillous cells (MVCs) are strategically positioned at the apical surface, but their specific functions are enigmatic, and their relationship to the other specialized epithelial cells is unclear. Here, we establish that the family of MVCs comprises tuft cells and ionocytes in both mice and humans. Integrating analysis of the respiratory and olfactory epithelia, we define the distinct receptor expression of TRPM5 + tuft-MVCs compared with Gɑ-gustducin high respiratory tuft cells and characterize a previously undescribed population of glandular DCLK1 + tuft cells. To establish how allergen sensing by tuft-MVCs might direct olfactory mucosal responses, we used an integrated single-cell transcriptional and protein analysis. Inhalation of Alternaria induced mucosal epithelial effector molecules including Chil4 and a distinct pathway leading to proliferation of the quiescent olfactory horizontal basal stem cell (HBC) pool, both triggered in the absence of olfactory apoptosis. Alternaria- and ATP-elicited HBC proliferation was dependent on TRPM5 + tuft-MVCs, identifying these specialized epithelial cells as regulators of olfactory stem cell responses. Together, our data provide high-resolution characterization of nasal tuft cell heterogeneity and identify a function of TRPM5 + tuft-MVCs in directing the olfactory mucosal response to allergens.

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