The recently identified CXCL16 has dual functions as a transmembrane adhesion molecule and a soluble chemokine. In this study we found that CXCL16 mRNA and protein were expressed constitutively on the follicle-associated epithelium covering Peyer's patches (PPs), isolated lymphoid follicles, and cecal patches, but minimally on the villous epithelium in the murine gastrointestinal tract. The CXCL16 receptor CXCR6/Bonzo was constitutively expressed on subpopulations of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells isolated from PPs. The expression of CXCR6/Bonzo on the PP T cells was up-regulated after stimulation with anti-CD3 and anti-CD28 mAbs. The activated PP T cells showed chemotactic migration in response to the soluble N-terminal chemokine domain of CXCL16. Furthermore, the activated PP T cells selectively adhered to cells expressing murine CXCL16. To determine the physiological role of CXCL16 in GALT, we first carefully analyzed T cell distribution in PPs. T cells localized not only in the interfollicular region but also at a lesser frequency in the subepithelial dome (SED) and in the germinal center of lymphoid follicles. Consistently, the majority of the adoptive transferred activated T cells migrated into the SED and the interfollicular region. However, the neutralization of CXCL16 specifically reduced the migration of the adoptive, transferred, activated T cells into the SED of PPs. These data suggest that CXCL16 expressed on the follicle-associated epithelium plays an important role in the recruitment and retention of activated T cells in the SED and should, at least partially, be responsible for lymphocyte compartmentalization in GALT.
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