The multifunctional nature of CD103 (αEβ7 integrin) signaling in tissue-resident lymphocytes

Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2022 Oct 1;323(4):C1161-C1167. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.00338.2022. Epub 2022 Aug 29.


Intestinal tissue-resident lymphocytes are critical for maintenance of the mucosal barrier and to prevent enteric infections. The activation of these lymphocytes must be tightly regulated to prevent aberrant inflammation and epithelial damage observed in autoimmune diseases, yet also ensure that antimicrobial host defense remains uncompromised. Tissue-resident lymphocytes express CD103, or αE integrin, which dimerizes with the β7 subunit to bind to E-cadherin expressed on epithelial cells. Although the role of CD103 in homing and retention of lymphocytes to and within peripheral tissues has been well characterized, the molecular signals activated following CD103 engagement remain understudied. Here, we highlight recent studies that elucidate the functional contribution of CD103 in various lymphocyte subpopulations, either as an independent signaling molecule or in the context of TCR co-stimulation. Finally, we will discuss the gaps in our understanding of CD103 biology and the therapeutic potential of targeting CD103 on tissue-resident lymphocytes.

Keywords: adhesion; integrin; intracellular signaling; lymphocyte; migration.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Cadherins* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Integrin alpha Chains
  • Integrins* / metabolism
  • Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / metabolism


  • Antigens, CD
  • Cadherins
  • Integrin alpha Chains
  • Integrins
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell
  • alpha E integrins