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Eur J Immunol. 1995 Feb;25(2):520-5.

Distribution of HLA class II molecules in epidermal Langerhans cells in situ.

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Department of Dermatology, University Hospital Leiden, The Netherlands.


We performed immunoelectron microscopic studies to investigate the expression of HLA class II molecules in Langerhans cells (LC). In the epidermis, LC expressed class II molecules on the plasma membrane of the dendrites, resulting in a class II positive reticulo-epithelial network, but not on the surface of the cell body. In contrast, isolated LC as well as activated LC in situ displayed an even and strong expression of class II molecules on their entire cell surface. Therefore, isolation and/or activation results in redistribution and up-regulation of class II molecules on the cell surface. In addition, double-labeling experiments were carried out with monoclonal antibodies to class II antigens and to LAMP-1, CD63 and alpha-glucosidase, specific markers for organelles of the endosomal/lysosomal system. The results show expression of class II molecules on intracellular, electron-dense vesicular structures, and co-localization of class II molecules and the markers for late endosomes and early lysosomes in human LC in situ. Expression of these markers was not found on Birbeck granules, an LC-specific organelle.

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