Migratory non-lymphoid tissue dendritic cells (NLT-DCs) transport antigens to lymph nodes (LNs) and are required for protective immune responses in the context of inflammation and to promote tolerance to self-antigens in steady-state. However, the molecular mechanisms that elicit steady-state NLT-DC maturation and migration are unknown. By comparing the transcriptome of NLT-DCs in the skin with their migratory counterparts in draining LNs, we have identified a novel NF-κB-regulated gene network specific to migratory DCs. We show that targeted deletion of IKKβ in DCs, a major activator of NF-κB, prevents NLT-DC accumulation in LNs and compromises regulatory T cell conversion in vivo. This was associated with impaired tolerance and autoimmunity. NF-κB is generally considered the prototypical pro-inflammatory transcription factor, but this study describes a role for NF-κB signaling in DCs for immune homeostasis and tolerance that could have implications in autoimmune diseases and immunity.
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