The marginal zone (MZ) of the spleen contains multiple cell types that are involved in mounting rapid immune responses against blood-borne pathogens, including conventional dendritic cells (cDCs) and MZ B cells. MZ B cells develop later than other B cell types and are sparse in neonatal mice. Here, we show that cDC2s are abundant in the MZ of neonatal compared with adult mice. We find that conditions associated with reduced MZ B cell numbers in adult mice cause increased cDC2 occupancy of the MZ. Treatment with the S1PR1-modulating drug, FTY720, causes cDC2 movement into the MZ through the indirect mechanism of displacing MZ B cells into follicles. Splenic cDC2s express high amounts of α4β1 and αLβ2 integrins and depend on these integrins and the adaptor Talin for their retention in blood-exposed regions of the spleen. Splenic CD4 T cell activation by particulate antigens is increased in mice with higher cDC2 density in the MZ, including in neonatal mice. Our work establishes requirements for homeostatic cDC2 positioning in the spleen and provides evidence that localization in blood-exposed regions around the white pulp augments cDC2 capture of particulate antigens. We suggest that MZ positioning of cDC2s partially compensates for the lack of MZ B cells during the neonatal period.

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