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.
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Apr 10 2012|