CD4 T cells play a key role in immunological memory. We have demonstrated that professional memory CD4 T cells reside and rest in the bone marrow (BM). However, the molecular mechanisms of their establishment in the BM and their maintenance remain unclear. We here show that memory CD4 T cells express high levels of CD49b and that CD49b-deficient or -blocked memory CD4 T-cell precursors fail to migrate from blood into the marrow of the bone, and they especially fail to transmigrate through sinusoidal endothelial cells of the BM. In the marrow, memory CD4 T cells and the precursors contact stromal cells expressing collagen II that are specific ligands for CD49b. Interestingly, memory CD4 T cells on day 117 of an immune response also dock on IL-7+/collagen XI+stromal cells, whereas memory precursors on day 12 do not. These results indicate that the collagen receptor CD49b is required for the migration of memory CD4 T-cell precursors into their survival niches of the bone marrow.
Immunology and Cell Biology (2013) 91, 524–531