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Nature. 1993 Jan 7;361(6407):82-5.

Adhesion of epidermal Langerhans cells to keratinocytes mediated by E-cadherin.

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Dermatology Branch, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


Langerhans cells (LC) are the principal accessory cells present in epidermis. Because LC have limited capacity for self-renewal, epidermis is continually repopulated by as-yet uncharacterized bone marrow-derived LC progenitors. In addition, although LC persist in epidermis for extended periods, LC are induced to migrate from skin to regional lymph nodes after antigen exposure. To begin to elucidate mechanisms involved in LC trafficking, we characterized LC-keratinocyte (KC) interactions. Here we report that fresh murine LC express cadherins, and that LC adhere to KC in vitro through E-cadherin. Cultured LC (which may bear a phenotypic and functional relationship to LC that have migrated to lymph nodes) express lower levels of E-cadherin and exhibit decreased affinity for KC. These results suggest that expression of E-cadherin by LC promotes persistence of these cells in epidermis, and that cadherins may play important and unanticipated roles in interactions between leukocytes and epithelia.

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