The entry of blood-borne lymphocytes into most secondary lymphoid organs is initiated by a highly specific adhesive interaction with the specialized cuboidal endothelial cells of high endothelial venules (HEV). The adhesive receptors on lymphocytes that dictate interactions with HEV in different lymphoid organs are called homing receptors, signifying their critical role in controlling organ-selective lymphocyte migration. Considerable work has established that the mouse peripheral lymph node homing receptor (pnHR), defined by the mAb MEL-14, functions as a lectin-like adhesive protein. We have previously shown that sialidase treatment of peripheral lymph node (PN) HEV abrogates lymphocyte attachment to the HEV both in vivo and in vitro. We extend this evidence by demonstrating that Limax agglutinin (LA), a sialic acid-specific lectin, when reacted with HEV exposed in cryostat-cut tissue sections, blocks lymphocyte attachment to PN HEV and, unexpectedly, to the HEV of Peyer's patches (PP) as well. Using a recombinant form of the pnHR as a histochemical probe for its cognate adhesive site (HEV-ligand) on PN HEV, we demonstrate that both sialidase and Limax agglutinin functionally inactive this ligand. It is concluded that the requirement for sialic acid is at the level of the pnHR interaction with its HEV ligand. A distinct sialyloligosaccharide may encode the recognition determinant of a PP HEV ligand.

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