Keratinocytes function as accessory cells for presentation of endogenous antigen expressed in the epidermis

Brian S. Kim, Fumi Miyagawa, Young Hun Cho, Clare L. Bennett, Björn E. Clausen, Stephen I. Katz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


The precise contribution(s) of skin dendritic cells (DCs) to immune responses in the skin has not been well delineated. We developed an intradermal (i.d.) injection model in which CD8 + T (OT-I) cells that express ovalbumin (OVA) peptide-specific TCRs (Vα2/Vβ5) are delivered directly to the dermis of transgenic (Tg) mice expressing OVA in the epidermis. After i.d. injection, these mice reliably develop skin graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) by day 7. To determine the relative contribution of Langerhans cells (LCs) to the ensuing GVHD-like reaction, we generated K14-OVA × Langerin-diphtheria- toxin-receptor (Langerin-DTR) Tg mice to allow conditional ablation of LCs in the epidermis. To delineate the role of dermal DCs (dDCs) in the reaction, we also generated K14-OVA Tg chimeras using β 2-microglobulin-deficient (β 2 m) congenic donor bone marrow cells. Dermal DCs in these mice cannot present OVA to autoreactive T cells (OT-I cells), whereas the LCs are antigen presentation-competent. Unexpectedly, OT-I cell injection into diphtheria toxin (DT)-treated β 2 m → K14-OVA × Langerin-DTR Tg mice resulted in skin GVHD. Thus, in vivo, both LC and dDC appear to be dispensable for the induction of keratinocyte-directed, CD8-mediated effector immune responses. Furthermore and surprisingly, OVA-expressing epidermal cells depleted of LCs that could not initiate allogeneic epidermal lymphocyte reactions activated naive OT-I cells in vitro. These results indicate that keratinocytes may function as accessory cells competent to prime naive skin-reactive T cells.JID JOURNAL CLUB ARTICLE: For questions, answers, and open discussion about this article, please go to

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2805-2817
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

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