The interaction of L-selectin on lymphocytes with sulfated ligands on high endothelial venules (HEVs) of lymph nodes results in lymphocyte rolling and is essential for lymphocyte homing. The MECA-79 monoclonal antibody reports HEV-expressed ligands for L-selectin by recognizing a critical sulfation-dependent determinant on these ligands. HEC-GlcNAc6ST, a HEV-localized sulfotransferase, is essential for the elaboration of functional ligands within lymph nodes, as well as the generation of the MECA-79 epitope. Here, we use an antibody against murine HEC-GlcNAc6ST to study its expression in relationship to the MECA-79 epitope. In lymph nodes, the enzyme is expressed in the Golgi apparatus of high endothelial cells, in close correspondence with luminal staining by MECA-79. In lymph node HEVs of HEC-GlcNAc6ST-null mice, luminal staining by MECA-79 is almost abolished, whereas abluminal staining persists although reduced in intensity. HEV-like vessels in several examples of inflammation-associated lymphoid neogenesis, including nonobese diabetic mice, also exhibit concomitant expression of the sulfotransferase and luminal MECA-79 reactivity. The correlation extends to ectopic lymphoid aggregates within the pancreas of RIP-BLC mice, in which CXCL13 is expressed in islets. Analysis of the progeny of RIP-BLC by HEC-GlcNAc6ST-null mice establishes that the enzyme is responsible for the MECA-79 defined luminal ligands.
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