CCR7/CCL19 controls expression of EDG-1 in T cells
T lymphocytes circulate between the blood, tissues, and lymph. These T cells carry out immune functions, using the C-C chemokine receptor 7 (CCR7) and its cognate ligands, CCL19 and CCL21, to enter and travel through the lymph nodes. Distinct roles for each ligand in regulating T lymphocyte trafficking have remained elusive. We report that in the human T cell line HuT78 and in primary murine T lymphocytes, signaling from CCR7/CCL19 leads to increased expression and phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 5 (ERK5) within eight hours of stimulation. Within 48-72 h we observed peak levels of endothelial differentiation gene 1 (EDG-1), which mediates the egress of T lymphocytes from lymph nodes. The increased expression of EDG-1 was preceded by up-regulation of its transcription factor, Krüppel-like factor 2 (KLF-2). To determine the cellular effect of disrupting ERK5 signaling from CCR7, we examined the migration of ERK5(flox/flox)/Lck-Cre murine T cells to EDG-1 ligands. While CCL19-stimulated ERK5(flox/flox) naïve T cells showed increased migration to EDG-1 ligands at 48 h, the migration of ERK5(flox/flox)/Lck-Cre T cells remained at a basal level. Accordingly, we define a novel signaling pathway that controls EDG-1 up-regulation following stimulation of T cells by CCR7/CCL19. This is the first report to link the two signaling events that control migration through the lymph nodes: CCR7 mediates entry into the lymph nodes and EDG-1 signaling controls their subsequent exit.