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      External antigen uptake by Langerhans cells with reorganization of epidermal tight junction barriers

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          Outermost barriers are critical for terrestrial animals to avoid desiccation and to protect their bodies from foreign insults. Mammalian skin consists of two sets of barriers: stratum corneum (SC) and tight junctions (TJs). How acquisition of external antigens (Ags) by epidermal Langerhans cells (LCs) occur despite these barriers has remained unknown. We show that activation-induced LCs elongate their dendrites to penetrate keratinocyte (KC) TJs and survey the extra-TJ environment located outside of the TJ barrier, just beneath the SC. Penetrated dendrites uptake Ags from the tip where Ags colocalize with langerin/Birbeck granules. TJs at KC–KC contacts allow penetration of LC dendrites by dynamically forming new claudin-dependent bicellular- and tricellulin-dependent tricellular TJs at LC–KC contacts, thereby maintaining TJ integrity during Ag uptake. Thus, covertly under keratinized SC barriers, LCs and KCs demonstrate remarkable cooperation that enables LCs to gain access to external Ags that have violated the SC barrier while concomitantly retaining TJ barriers to protect intra-TJ environment.

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          Most cited references 34

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          Claudin-based tight junctions are crucial for the mammalian epidermal barrier

          The tight junction (TJ) and its adhesion molecules, claudins, are responsible for the barrier function of simple epithelia, but TJs have not been thought to play an important role in the barrier function of mammalian stratified epithelia, including the epidermis. Here we generated claudin-1–deficient mice and found that the animals died within 1 d of birth with wrinkled skin. Dehydration assay and transepidermal water loss measurements revealed that in these mice the epidermal barrier was severely affected, although the layered organization of keratinocytes appeared to be normal. These unexpected findings prompted us to reexamine TJs in the epidermis of wild-type mice. Close inspection by immunofluorescence microscopy with an antioccludin monoclonal antibody, a TJ-specific marker, identified continuous TJs in the stratum granulosum, where claudin-1 and -4 were concentrated. The occurrence of TJs was also confirmed by ultrathin section EM. In claudin-1–deficient mice, claudin-1 appeared to have simply been removed from these TJs, leaving occludin-positive (and also claudin-4–positive) TJs. Interestingly, in the wild-type epidermis these occludin-positive TJs efficiently prevented the diffusion of subcutaneously injected tracer (∼600 D) toward the skin surface, whereas in the claudin-1–deficient epidermis the tracer appeared to pass through these TJs. These findings provide the first evidence that continuous claudin-based TJs occur in the epidermis and that these TJs are crucial for the barrier function of the mammalian skin.
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            Origin, homeostasis and function of Langerhans cells and other langerin-expressing dendritic cells.

            Langerhans cells (LCs) are a specialized subset of dendritic cells (DCs) that populate the epidermal layer of the skin. Langerin is a lectin that serves as a valuable marker for LCs in mice and humans. In recent years, new mouse models have led to the identification of other langerin(+) DC subsets that are not present in the epidermis, including a subset of DCs that is found in most non-lymphoid tissues. In this Review we describe new developments in the understanding of the biology of LCs and other langerin(+) DCs and discuss the challenges that remain in identifying the role of different DC subsets in tissue immunity.
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              Langerin, a novel C-type lectin specific to Langerhans cells, is an endocytic receptor that induces the formation of Birbeck granules.

              We have identified a type II Ca2+-dependent lectin displaying mannose-binding specificity, exclusively expressed by Langerhans cells (LC), and named Langerin. LC are uniquely characterized by Birbeck granules (BG), which are organelles consisting of superimposed and zippered membranes. Here, we have shown that Langerin is constitutively associated with BG and that antibody to Langerin is internalized into these structures. Remarkably, transfection of Langerin cDNA into fibroblasts created a compact network of membrane structures with typical features of BG. Langerin is thus a potent inducer of membrane superimposition and zippering leading to BG formation. Our data suggest that induction of BG is a consequence of the antigen-capture function of Langerin, allowing routing into these organelles and providing access to a nonclassical antigen-processing pathway.

                Author and article information

                J Exp Med
                J. Exp. Med
                The Journal of Experimental Medicine
                The Rockefeller University Press
                21 December 2009
                : 206
                : 13
                : 2937-2946
                [1 ]Department of Dermatology and [2 ]Center for Integrated Medical Research, School of Medicine, Keio University, Tokyo 160-8582, Japan
                [3 ]Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Institute of DNA Medicine, Jikei University School of Medicine, Tokyo 105-8461, Japan
                [4 ]The Center for Advanced Medical Engineering and Informatics, Osaka University, Osaka 565-0871, Japan
                Author notes
                CORRESPONDENCE Akiharu Kubo: akiharu@ 123456a5.keio.jp
                © 2009 Kubo et al.

                This article is distributed under the terms of an Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike–No Mirror Sites license for the first six months after the publication date (see http://www.jem.org/misc/terms.shtml). After six months it is available under a Creative Commons License (Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, as described at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/).

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