Characterization of the molecular mechanisms underlying increased mucus production of HT29-MTX-E12 cells grown on a semi-wet interface with mechanical stimulation



The multifunctional intestinal mucus layer plays a crucial role in human health. Our understanding of the human colonic mucus layer in terms of structure, function and has been largely dependent on expensive and advanced ex vivo or in vitro models, which often require high expertise. The mucus-producing intestinal cell line HT29-MTX-E12 has been commonly used in more simple in vitro models, but produces only low amounts of the intestine-specific MUC2. It has been shown previously that HT29-MTX-E12 cells cultured in Semi-Wet interface with Mechanical Stimulation (SWMS) produced higher amounts of MUC2 and had a thicker mucus layer compared to conventional culturing methods. However, it remains unknown which underlying pathways are involved. Therefore, we aimed to further explore the cellular processes underlying the increased mucus production by HT29-MTX-E12 cells grown under SWMS conditions. Cells grown on Transwell inserts for 15 days were subject to transcriptome analysis to investigate underlying molecular pathways at gene expression level. We also further characterized the model by measuring transepithelial resistance and pH and lactate production of the conditioned medium. We confirmed higher MUC2 production under SWMS conditions and demonstrated that this culturing method primarily stimulated cell growth. In addition, we also found evidence for a more aerobic cell metabolism under SWMS, as shown previously for similar models. In summary, we suggest different mechanisms in which mucus production is enhanced under SWMS and propose potential applications of this model in future studies.  Overall design: HT29-MTX-E12 and Caco-2 cells were seeded on Transwell membranes. One day after seeding, cells were further cultured for 14 days under either SWMS conditions (i.e. low apical volume and continuous shaking at 65 rpm) or static conditions (similar conditions as during seeding). After harvesting, RNA isolated from cells was subjected to microarray analysis.
Date made available3 May 2021
PublisherWageningen University & Research


  • Homo sapiens

Accession numbers

  • PRJNA726886
  • GSE173729

Cite this