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J Immunol. 2005 Jun 1;174(11):6657-62.

Development of murine plasmacytoid dendritic cells defined by increased expression of an inhibitory NK receptor, Ly49Q.

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Department of Animal Development and Physiology, Graduate School of Biostudies, Kyoto University, Japan.


Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (PDCs) are defined in mice by a unique combination of markers: CD11c, B220, and Ly6C/G. We have reported previously that PDCs express Ly49Q, a lectin-type killer cell inhibitory receptor. We now find that different expression levels of Ly49Q define sequential developmental stages of PDCs in bone marrow. Although PDCs in spleen and lymph nodes express high levels of Ly49Q, a significant portion of CD11c(+)B220(+) PDCs in bone marrow lack Ly49Q, as well as the CD4 and MHC II. Purified Ly49Q(-) marrow PDCs spontaneously up-regulate Ly49Q after overnight culture without cell proliferation and acquire most features of typical PDCs in spleen. When exposed to TLR ligands, such as CpG-oligodeoxynucleotide and hemagglutinating virus of Japan (Sendai virus), Ly49Q(-) PDCs increase CD86 and MHC class II expression but produce less IFN-alphabeta, IL-6, and IL-12p70 than Ly49Q(+) PDCs, although they are able to produce comparable amounts of TNF-alpha. However, interestingly, Ly49Q(-) PDCs do not produce TNF-alpha in response to the TLR2 ligand, Pam3SCK(4), whereas Ly49Q(+) PDCs did. Therefore, Ly49Q is a new marker to identify a precursor form of PDCs that participates in innate immunity.

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