Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)

Differential Ly49e expression pathways in resting versus TCR-activated intraepithelial γδ T cells.

PMID 23338239


The Ly49 NK receptor family in mice is composed of several members that recognize MHC class I (MHC-I) or MHC-I-related molecules. We and others have shown before that Ly49E is a unique member, with a different expression pattern on NK cells and being triggered by the non-MHC-I-related protein urokinase plasminogen activator. Among the entire Ly49 receptor family, Ly49E is the only Ly49 member expressed by epidermal-localized γδ T cells and their fetal thymic TCRγδ precursors, and it is the most abundantly expressed member on intestinal intraepithelial γδ T cell lymphocytes. In this study, we provide mechanistic insights into the regulation of Ly49e expression in γδ T cells. First, we demonstrate that TCR-mediated activation of intraepithelial γδ T cells significantly increases Ly49E expression. This results from de novo Ly49E expression and is highly selective, because no other Ly49 family members are induced. TCR-mediated Ly49E induction is a conserved feature of skin- and gut-residing intraepithelial-localized γδ T cell subsets, whereas it is not observed in spleen γδ T cells. By investigating Ly49e promoter activities and lymphotoxin (LT) αβ dependency in resting versus TCR-activated intraepithelial γδ T cells, we reveal two separate regulatory pathways for Ly49E expression, as follows: a LTαβ-dependent pathway leading to basal Ly49E expression in resting cells that is induced by Pro2-mediated Ly49e transcription, and a LTαβ-independent pathway leading to elevated, Pro3-driven Ly49E expression in TCR-stimulated cells.