Alpha E beta 7 integrin interaction with E-cadherin promotes antitumor CTL activity by triggering lytic granule polarization and exocytosis

J Exp Med. 2007 Mar 19;204(3):559-70. doi: 10.1084/jem.20061524. Epub 2007 Feb 26.


Various T cell adhesion molecules and their cognate receptors on target cells promote T cell receptor (TCR)-mediated cell killing. In this report, we demonstrate that the interaction of epithelial cell marker E-cadherin with integrin alpha(E)(CD103)beta(7), often expressed by tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs), plays a major role in effective tumor cell lysis. Indeed, we found that although tumor-specific CD103(+) TIL-derived cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) clones are able to kill E-cadherin(+)/intercellular adhesion molecule 1(-) autologous tumor cells, CD103(-) peripheral blood lymphocyte (PBL)-derived counterparts are inefficient. This cell killing is abrogated after treatment of the TIL clones with a blocking anti-CD103 monoclonal antibody or after targeting E-cadherin in the tumor using ribonucleic acid interference. Confocal microscopy analysis also demonstrated that alpha(E)beta(7) is recruited at the immunological synapse and that its interaction with E-cadherin is required for cytolytic granule polarization and subsequent exocytosis. Moreover, we report that the CD103(-) profile, frequently observed in PBL-derived CTL clones and associated with poor cytotoxicity against the cognate tumor, is up-regulated upon TCR engagement and transforming growth factor beta1 treatment, resulting in strong potentiation of antitumor lytic function. Thus, CD8(+)/CD103(+) tumor-reactive T lymphocytes infiltrating epithelial tumors most likely play a major role in antitumor cytotoxic response through alpha(E)beta(7)-E-cadherin interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cadherins / metabolism
  • Cadherins / physiology*
  • Carcinoma, Large Cell / immunology
  • Carcinoma, Large Cell / prevention & control
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Polarity / immunology*
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / immunology*
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / metabolism
  • Exocytosis / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Integrins / metabolism
  • Integrins / physiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Lung Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / metabolism


  • Cadherins
  • Integrins
  • integrin alphaEbeta7