Immunoglobulin A (IgA) promotes health by regulating the composition and function of gut microbiota, but the molecular requirements for such homeostatic IgA function remain unknown. We found that a heavily glycosylated monoclonal IgA recognizing ovalbumin coats Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron (B. theta), a prominent gut symbiont of the phylum Bacteroidetes. In vivo, IgA alters the expression of polysaccharide utilization loci (PUL), including a functionally uncharacterized molecular family provisionally named Mucus-Associated Functional Factor (MAFF). In both mice and humans, MAFF is detected predominantly in mucus-resident bacteria, and its expression requires the presence of complex microbiota. Expression of the MAFF system facilitates symbiosis with other members of the phylum Firmicutes and promotes protection from a chemically induced model of colitis. Our data reveal a novel mechanism by which IgA promotes symbiosis and colonic homeostasis.
Read more at: Journal of Experimental Medicine