AXL, a member of the TYRO3, AXL, and MERTK (TAM) receptor tyrosine kinase family, has been shown to play a role in the differentiation and activation of epidermal Langerhans cells (LCs). Here, we demonstrate that growth arrest-specific 6 (GAS6) protein, the predominant ligand of AXL, has no impact on LC differentiation and homeostasis. We thus examined the role of protein S (PROS1), the other TAM ligand acting primarily via TYRO3 and MERTK, in LC function. Genetic ablation of PROS1 in keratinocytes resulted in a typical postnatal differentiation of LCs; however, a significant reduction in LC frequencies was observed in adult mice due to increased apoptosis. This was attributed to altered expression of cytokines involved in LC development and tissue homeostasis within keratinocytes. PROS1 was then excised in LysM+ cells to target LCs at early embryonic developmental stages, as well as in adult monocytes that also give rise to LCs. Differentiation and homeostasis of LCs derived from embryonic precursors was not affected following Pros1 ablation. However, differentiation of LCs from bone marrow (BM) precursors in vitro was accelerated, as was their capability to reconstitute epidermal LCs in vivo. These reveal an inhibitory role for PROS1 on BM-derived LCs. Collectively, this study highlights a cell-specific regulation of LC differentiation and homeostasis by TAM signaling.
Keywords: Langerhans cells; Pros1; TAM signaling; epidermis; protein S.