Langerhans cells (LCs) are antigen-presenting cells in the epidermis whose roles in antigen-specific immune regulation remain incompletely understood. Desmoglein 3 (Dsg3) is a keratinocyte cell-cell adhesion molecule critical for epidermal integrity and an autoantigen in the autoimmune blistering disease pemphigus. Although antibody-mediated disease mechanisms in pemphigus are extensively characterized, the T cell aspect of this autoimmune disease still remains poorly understood. Herein, we utilized a mouse model of CD4+ T cell-mediated autoimmunity against Dsg3 to show that acquisition of Dsg3 and subsequent presentation to T cells by LCs depended on the C-type lectin langerin. The lack of LCs led to enhanced autoimmunity with impaired Dsg3-specific regulatory T cell expansion. LCs expressed the IL-2 receptor complex and the disruption of IL-2 signaling in LCs attenuated LC-mediated regulatory T cell expansion in vitro, demonstrating that direct IL-2 signaling shapes LC function. These data establish that LCs mediate peripheral tolerance against an epidermal autoantigen and point to langerin and IL-2 signaling pathways as attractive targets for achieving tolerogenic responses particularly in autoimmune blistering diseases such as pemphigus.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)