Special Issue "Mast Cell Development, Activation and Contribution to Health and Disease"

A special issue of Cells (ISSN 2073-4409). This special issue belongs to the section "Cellular Immunology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Magda Babina
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Interests: mast cells; anaphylaxis; allergy; IgE receptor; MRGPRX2; cytokines; transcription factors; noncoding RNAs; skin; keratinocytes

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Mast cells (MCs) are widely recognized as effector cells of type I hypersensitivity reactions. Their distinguishing features are typical MC granules filled with potent mediators, including histamine and MC proteases, which can be acutely externalized by degranulation. Also occurring, though less rapidly, is the expression and release—by MCs—of a variety of other mediators, especially cytokines, that can orchestrate innate and adaptive immunity and a spectrum of other pathophysiological processes.

At least in the mouse, mast cell progenitors develop in the yolk sac or the bone marrow, but undergo terminal differentiation in close interaction with neighboring cells within peripheral tissues (like skin, gut, or lung) in which they become resident. Our understanding of the pathways that regulate MC proliferation, differentiation, and survival—from the stages of the earliest multipotent progenitors to the fully mature tissue mast cells—and the factors favoring MCs over other lineages are still rudimentary, especially in humans.

While type I allergic reactions triggered by specific IgE + allergen are fairly well understood, evidence is accumulating that the more recently uncovered Mas-related G protein-coupled receptor type 2 (MRGPRX2) may occupy a similarly important role in clinically relevant MC activation and, therefore, determine MC involvement in health and disease, though the knowledge regarding this remains in its infancy. Therefore, this novel pseudo-allergic/neurogenic route of mast cell activation is currently an area of highly active research.

In this Special Issue of Cells, we are inviting contributions either in the form of original research articles, reviews, or shorter perspective articles on all aspects related to the subject of “Mast Cell Development, Activation, and Contribution to Health and Disease”. Articles with mechanistic and functional insights at either a cellular or molecular level, both in vitro and in vivo, are particularly welcome. Relevant topics include, but are not limited to:

* Mast cell heterogeneity and plasticity, including (major and minor) mast cell subsets;
* Mast cell development;
* Mast cell relationship with other hematopoietic lineages;
* Insights into mast cell activation by the allergic and the pseudo-allergic/neurogenic, (MRGPRX2-triggered) route;
* Structure–activity relationships and chemical properties of MRGPRX2 ligands (agonists and antagonists);
* Other mast cell receptors and their contribution to mast cell functional programs;
* Mast cell survival;
* Mast cell signal transduction;
* Transcriptional regulation by transcription factors, epigenetic and other mechanisms, and MC-specific promoters;
* Mast cell mediators and their regulation;
* Mast cell communication with natural neighbor cells;
* Beneficial functions of mast cells that safeguard health;
* Novel deleterious roles of mast cells contributing to pathologies of various natures.

Dr. Magda Babina
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Cells is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • mast cell development/ontogeny
  • allergy
  • pseudo-allergy
  • IgE
  • mast cell activation
  • mast cell cytokines
  • mast cell granules
  • mast cell transcriptional control
  • intercellular crosstalk

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessArticle
Quantitative In-Depth Analysis of the Mouse Mast Cell Transcriptome Reveals Organ-Specific Mast Cell Heterogeneity
Cells 2020, 9(1), 211; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells9010211 - 14 Jan 2020
Mast cells (MCs) are primarily resident hematopoietic tissue cells that are localized at external and internal surfaces of the body where they act in the first line of defense. MCs are found in all studied vertebrates and have also been identified in tunicates, [...] Read more.
Mast cells (MCs) are primarily resident hematopoietic tissue cells that are localized at external and internal surfaces of the body where they act in the first line of defense. MCs are found in all studied vertebrates and have also been identified in tunicates, an early chordate. To obtain a detailed insight into the biology of MCs, here we analyzed the transcriptome of MCs from different mouse organs by RNA-seq and PCR-based transcriptomics. We show that MCs at different tissue locations differ substantially in their levels of transcripts coding for the most abundant MC granule proteins, even within the connective tissue type, or mucosal MC niches. We also demonstrate that transcript levels for the major granule proteins, including the various MC-restricted proteases and the heparin core protein, can be several orders of magnitude higher than those coding for various surface receptors and enzymes involved in protease activation, as well as enzymes involved in the synthesis of heparin, histamine, leukotrienes, and prostaglandins. Interestingly, our analyses revealed an almost complete absence in MCs of transcripts coding for cytokines at baseline conditions, indicating that cytokines are primarily produced by activated MCs. Bone marrow-derived MCs (BMMCs) are often used as equivalents of tissue MCs. Here, we show that these cells differ substantially from tissue MCs with regard to their transcriptome. Notably, they showed a transcriptome indicative of relatively immature cells, both with respect to the expression of granule proteases and of various enzymes involved in the processing/synthesis of granule compounds, indicating that care should be taken when extrapolating findings from BMMCs to the in vivo function of tissue-resident MCs. Furthermore, the latter finding indicates that the development of fully mature tissue-resident MCs requires a cytokine milieu beyond what is needed for in vitro differentiation of BMMCs. Altogether, this study provides a comprehensive quantitative view of the transcriptome profile of MCs resident at different tissue locations that builds nicely on previous studies of both the mouse and human transcriptome, and form a solid base for future evolutionary studies of the role of MCs in vertebrate immunity. Full article
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