Cancer-associated epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM; CD326) enables epidermal Langerhans cell motility and migration in vivo

Maria R. Gaiser, Tim Lämmermann, Xu Feng, Botond Z. Igyarto, Daniel H. Kaplan, Lino Tessarollo, Ronald N. Germain, Mark C. Udey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


After activation, Langerhans cells (LC), a distinct subpopulation of epidermis-resident dendritic cells, migrate from skin to lymph nodes where they regulate the magnitude and quality of immune responses initiated by epicutaneously applied antigens. Modulation of LC-keratinocyte adhesion is likely to be central to regulation of LC migration. LC express high levels of epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM; CD326), a cell-surface protein that is characteristic of some epithelia and many carcinomas and that has been implicated in intercellular adhesion and metastasis. To gain insight into EpCAM function in a physiologic context in vivo, we generated conditional knockout mice with EpCAM-deficient LC and characterized them. Epidermis from these mice contained increased numbers of LC with normal levels of MHC and costimulatory molecules and T-cell-stimulatory activity in vitro. Migration of EpCAM-deficient LC from skin explants was inhibited, but chemo-taxis of dissociated LC was not. Correspondingly, the ability of contact allergen-stimulated, EpCAM-deficient LC to exit epidermis in vivo was delayed, and strikingly fewer hapten-bearing LC subsequently accumulated in lymph nodes. Attenuated migration of EpCAM-deficient LC resulted in enhanced contact hypersensitivity responses as previously described in LC-deficient mice. Intravital microscopy revealed reduced translocation and dendrite motility in EpCAM-deficient LC in vivo in contact allergen-treated mice. These results conclusively link EpCAM expression to LC motility/ migration and LC migration to immune regulation. EpCAM appears to promote LC migration from epidermis by decreasing LC-keratinocyte adhesion and may modulate intercellular adhesion and cell movement within in epithelia during development and carcinogenesis in an analogous fashion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E889-E897
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 10 2012


Dive into the research topics of 'Cancer-associated epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM; CD326) enables epidermal Langerhans cell motility and migration in vivo'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this