We have previously shown that laminin-5 is expressed in the human thymic medulla, in which mature thymocytes are located. We now report that laminin-5 promotes migration of mature medullary thymocytes, whereas it has no effect on cortical immature thymocytes. Migration was inhibited by blocking mAbs directed against laminin-5 integrin receptors and by inhibitors of metalloproteinases. Interactions of thymocytes with laminin-5 induced a strong up-regulation of active metalloproteinase-14. However, we found that thymocytes did not cleave the laminin-5 gamma(2) chain, suggesting that they do not use the same pathway as epithelial cells to migrate on laminin-5. Interactions of thymocytes with laminin-5 also induced the release of a soluble fragment of CD44 cell surface molecule. Moreover, CD44-rich supernatants induced thymocyte migration in contrast with supernatants depleted in CD44 by immunoadsorption. CD44 cleavage was recently reported to be due to metalloproteinase-14 activation and led to increased migration in cancer cells. Thus, in this study, we show that laminin-5 promotes human mature thymocyte migration in vitro via a multimolecular mechanism involving laminin-5 integrin receptors, metalloproteinase-14 and CD44. These data suggest that, in vivo, laminin-5 may function in the migration of mature thymocytes within the medulla and be part of the thymic emigration process.
View details for Web of Science ID 000188378700009
View details for PubMedID 14734715