The tissue localization or "homing" of circulating lymphocytes is directed in part by specialized vessels that define sites of lymphocyte exit from the blood. In peripheral lymph nodes, mucosal lymphoid tissues (Peyer's patches and appendix), and sites of chronic inflammation, for example, lymphocytes leave the blood by adhering to and migrating between those endothelial cells lining postcapillary high endothelial venules (HEV). Functional analyses of lymphocyte interactions with HEV have shown the lymphocytes can discriminate between HEV in different tissues, indicating that HEV express tissue-specific determinants or address signals for lymphocyte recognition. We recently described such a tissue-specific "vascular addressin" that is selectively expressed by endothelial cells supporting lymphocyte extravasation into mucosal tissues and that appears to be required for mucosa-specific lymphocyte homing (Streeter, P. R., E. L. Berg, B. N. Rouse, R. F. Bargatze, and E. C. Butcher. 1988. Nature (Lond.). 331:41-46). Here we document the existence and tissue-specific distribution of a distinct HEV differentiation antigen. Defined by monoclonal antibody MECA-79, this antigen is expressed at high levels on the lumenal surface and in the cytoplasm of HEV in peripheral lymph nodes. By contrast, although MECA-79 stains many HEV in the mucosal Peyer's patches, expression in most cases is restricted to the perivascular or ablumenal aspect of these venules. In the small intestine lamina propria, a mucosa-associated site that supports the extravasation of lymphocytes, venules do not stain with MECA-79. Finally, we demonstrate that MECA-79 blocks binding of both normal lymphocytes and a peripheral lymph node-specific lymphoma to peripheral lymph node HEV in vitro and that it also inhibits normal lymphocyte homing to peripheral lymph nodes in vivo without significantly influencing lymphocyte interactions with Peyer's patch HEV in vitro or in vivo. Thus, MECA-79 defines a novel vascular addressin involved in directing lymphocyte homing to peripheral lymph nodes.

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