Lymphocyte Biology Section, Laboratory of Immune System Biology, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA. Electronic address: [Email]
Lymph nodes (LNs) play critical roles in adaptive immunity by concentrating in one location the antigens, antigen-presenting cells, and antigen-responsive lymphocytes involved in such responses. Recent studies have revealed nonrandom localization of innate and adaptive immune cells within these organs, suggesting that microanatomical positioning optimizes responses involving sparse cooperating cells. Here, we report that the peripheral localization of LN cDC2 dendritic cells specialized for MHC-II antigen presentation is matched by a similarly biased paracortical distribution of CD4+ T cells directed by the chemoattractant receptor Ebi2. In the absence of Ebi2, CD4+ T cells lose their location bias and are delayed in antigen recognition, proliferative expansion, differentiation, direct effector activity, and provision of help for CD8+ T cell-mediated memory responses, limiting host defense and vaccine responses. These findings demonstrate evolutionary selection for distinct niches within the LN that promote cellular responses, emphasizing the critical link between fine-grained tissue organization and host defense.