Intercellular Protein Transfer from Thymocytes to Thymic Epithelial Cells.
Promiscuous expression of tissue restricted antigens (TRAs) in medullary thymic epithelial cells (mTECs) is crucial for negative selection of self-reactive T cells to establish central tolerance. Intercellular transfer of self-peptide-MHC complexes from mTECs to thymic dendritic cells (DCs) allows DCs to acquire TRAs, which in turn contributes to negative selection and regulatory T cell generation. However, mTECs are unlikely to express all TRAs, such as immunoglobulins generated only in B cells after somatic recombination, hyper-mutation, or class-switches. We report here that both mTECs and cortical TECs can efficiently acquire not only cell surface but also intracellular proteins from thymocytes. This reveals a previously unappreciated intercellular sharing of molecules from thymocytes to TECs, which may broaden the TRA inventory in mTECs for establishing a full spectrum of central tolerance.
Wang, H-X; Qiu, Y-R; Zhong, X-P
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