, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 573-582

Activated T-Lymphocytes Express Occludin, a Component of Tight Junctions

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T-lymphocytes routinely traffic from the lymphoid and vascular compartments to the tissues during immune surveillance and inflammatory responses. This egress occurs without compromising endothelial barrier, which is maintained by tight junctions (zonula occludens). We report that T-lymphocytes up-regulate the expression of occludin, a major component of the tight junction in response to stimulation with phorbol ester (PMA) + calcium ionophore, CD3 antibody or T-cell receptor (TCR) antibody. Only activated T-lymphocytes express occludin; this adhesion molecule is nearly absent in resting T-lymphocytes. By immunofluorescence, occludin is seen in lymphocyte aggregates, but does not appear to mediate aggregation since only 50% of the cells in these clusters express occludin. Occludin is expressed between 8 and 24 h following stimulation, and persists for at least 48 h. These data indicate that activated T cells produce occludin which may regulate lymphocyte adhesion and trafficking.