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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2005 Jun 17;331(4):977-83.

Intraepithelial lymphocytes express junctional molecules in murine small intestine.

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Parasitic Diseases Unit, Department of Infectious Diseases, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Kiyotake, Miyazaki 889-1692, Japan.


Intestinal intraepithelial lymphocytes (IEL) that reside at basolateral site regulate the proliferation and differentiation of epithelial cells (EC) for providing a first line of host defense in intestine. However, it remains unknown how IEL interact and communicate with EC. Here, we show that IEL express junctional molecules like EC. We identified mRNA expression of the junctional molecules in IEL such as zonula occludens (ZO)-1, occludin and junctional adhesion molecule (JAM) (tight junction), beta-catenin and E-cadherin (adherens junction), and connexin26 (gap junction). IEL constitutively expressed occludin and E-cadherin at protein level, while other T cells in the thymus, spleen, liver, mesenteric lymph node, and Peyer's patches did not. Gammadelta IEL showed higher level of these expressions than alphabeta IEL. The expression of occludin was augmented by anti-CD3 Ab stimulation. These results suggest the possibility of a novel role of IEL concerning epithelial barrier and communication between IEL and EC.

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