Skin Surveyors

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Science  02 Mar 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6072, pp. 1020
DOI: 10.1126/science.335.6072.1020-a

A specialized population of T cells that reside in the skin are important for responding to stress, such as that caused by wounding or malignancy. In mice, most of these cells express the γδ T cell receptor (TCR), and it is thought that they recognize stress when the TCR itself engages stress-induced ligands. Whether the TCR of skin γδ T cells is engaged in the steady state, however, is not well understood. Chodaczek et al. used a combination of intravital microscopy and immunohistochemistry of recently imaged mouse skin fragments to obtain a better picture of the actions of epidermal γδ T cells in the steady state. They found that these cells had specific orientations: They were positioned along squamous keratinocyte tight junctions and had multiple dendrites that extended toward the apical epidermis. The γδ TCR as well as other TCR signaling molecules localized to the tips of the dendrites in a TCR-specific manner. Epidermal stress caused γδ T cells to reorient toward the basal epidermis and Langerhans cells, but did not substantially alter the strength of the TCR signals. These results suggest that active TCR signaling in the basal state may help to prime γδ T cells to respond to a secondary stress signal.

Nat. Immunol. 13, 272 (2012).

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