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J Invest Dermatol. 1991 Apr;96(4):518-22.

Human epidermal Langerhans cells express integrins of the beta 1 subfamily.

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INSERM U 209 affilié CNRS, Clinique Dermatologique, Hôpital Ed. Herriot, Lyon, France.


The expression of VLA integrins on human epidermal Langerhans cells (LC) was investigated by indirect immunogold labeling on transmission electron microscopy, followed by a quantitative analysis. Labelings on suspensions enriched in freshly isolated LC were carried out with an antibody recognizing the beta 1 subunit, common to all members of the VLA family, and with antibodies specific for the six different alpha subunits, alpha 1 to alpha 6. Normal human epidermal LC were all beta 1 positive, of which 60% were highly positive. By labelings with different VLA-alpha-chain MoAb, there appeared two subpopulations of LC: one positive and one negative. On average 40% of LC bore small amounts of VLA-1 and VLA-3, 53% and 77% of LC expressed moderate amounts of VLA-2 and VLA-5, respectively, and VLA-4 and VLA-6 were expressed by 67% and 90% of LC, respectively. VLA proteins are mainly extracellular matrix protein receptors. VLA-6 (laminin receptor) and VLA-5 (fibronectin receptor) are expressed mainly by LC, and in this way could subserve LC to leave the epidermal compartment through the basement membrane, to migrate throughout the fibronectin network of the dermis before migrating via the afferent lymphatics to the regional lymph nodes, where they present antigen to T cells. VLA proteins such as VLA-4, VLA-3, or VLA-2, which are found involved in cell-cell contacts, could contribute to the promotion of T-cell activation by facilitating adherence between LC and T cells.

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