The inhibitory receptor killer cell lectin-like receptor G1 (KLRG1) and the integrin αE (CD103) are expressed by CD8(+) T cells and both are specific for E-cadherin. However, KLRG1 ligation by E-cadherin inhibits effector T-cell function, whereas binding of CD103 to E-cadherin enhances cell-cell interaction and promotes target cell lysis. Here, we demonstrate that KLRG1 and CD103 expression in CD8(+) T cells from untreated and virus-infected mice are mutually exclusive. Inverse correlation of KLRG1 and CD103 expression was also found in human CD8(+) T cells-infiltrating hepatocellular carcinomas. As TGF-β is known to induce CD103 expression in CD8(+) T cells, we examined whether this cytokine also regulates KLRG1 expression. Indeed, our data further reveal that TGF-β signaling in mouse as well as in human CD8(+) T cells downregulates KLRG1 expression. This finding provides a rationale for the reciprocal expression of KLRG1 and CD103 in different CD8(+) T-cell subsets. In addition, it points to the limitation of KLRG1 as a marker for terminally differentiated CD8(+) T cells if lymphocytes from tissues expressing high levels of TGF-β are analyzed.
Keywords: E-cadherin. CD8+ T cell; Killer cell lectin-like receptor G1; TGF-β; αE (CD103).
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