RELMβ/FIZZ2 is a goblet cell-specific immune-effector molecule in the gastrointestinal tract
Gastrointestinal (GI) nematode infections are an important public health and economic concern. Experimental studies have shown that resistance to infection requires CD4(+) T helper type 2 (Th2) cytokine responses characterized by the production of IL-4 and IL-13. However, despite >30 years of research, it is unclear how the immune system mediates the expulsion of worms from the GI tract. Here, we demonstrate that a recently described intestinal goblet cell-specific protein, RELMbeta/FIZZ2, is induced after exposure to three phylogenetically distinct GI nematode pathogens. Maximal expression of RELMbeta was coincident with the production of Th2 cytokines and host protective immunity, whereas production of the Th1 cytokine, IFN-gamma, inhibited RELMbeta expression and led to chronic infection. Furthermore, whereas induction of RELMbeta was equivalent in nematode-infected wild-type and IL-4-deficient mice, IL-4 receptor-deficient mice showed minimal RELMbeta induction and developed persistent infections, demonstrating a direct role for IL-13 in optimal expression of RELMbeta. Finally, we show that RELMbeta binds to components of the nematode chemosensory apparatus and inhibits chemotaxic function of a parasitic nematode in vitro. Together, these results suggest that intestinal goblet cell-derived RELMbeta may be a novel Th2 cytokine-induced immune-effector molecule in resistance to GI nematode infection.