Tissue position-dependent or address-dependent expression of cell adhesion molecules has been proposed to play a part in cellular positioning in a variety of systems, for example during neural development, the metastasis of neoplasms, and the tissue-specific homing of lymphocytes. The extravasation of blood-borne lymphocytes is regulated by interactions with the endothelium of specialised venules, such as the high endothelial venules (HEY) in organized lymph nodes and mucosal lymphoid tissues. At least three separate lymphocyte-HEV recognition systems have been described, one mediating tissue-selective lymphocyte interactions with HEV in peripheral lymph nodes, another in mucosal lymphoid organs, and a third in inflamed synovium. We have previously identified a tissue-specific 'vascular addressin' in the mouse which is selectively expressed by venules mediating lymphocyte-homing into mucosal tissues. To determine whether this addressin is a specific adhesion molecule for lymphocytes, we have isolated it by monoclonal antibody-affinity chromatography and inserted it into supported phospholipid planar membranes. Lymphocytes bind to membranes containing the addressin, but not to phospholipid bilayers or to control glycophorin-reconstituted membranes. Only those lymphocytes and lymphoma cell lines capable of binding to mucosal HEV adhere well to the isolated addressin; peripheral lymph node HEV-specific or HEV-non-binding cell lines do not bind. Binding is blocked by anti-addressin antibody MECA-367. We conclude that the mucosal vascular addressin is a tissue-specific endothelial cell-adhesion molecule for lymphocytes, and suggest that it could regulate lymphocyte traffic into mucosal tissues by mediating attachment of blood-borne cells to endothelium.
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