Expression of antigens by cultured epithelial cells: comparison of epidermis and thymic epithelium.
We have established long term in vitro cultures of human thymic epithelium and human epidermis free of contaminating fibroblasts. The cultured cells were examined using a panel of monoclonal antibodies which were raised against human thymic stroma and recognize tissue specific differentiation antigens of human epidermis and thymic epithelium. A subset of cultured epidermal cells (50%) and thymic epithelial cells (18%) expressed the TE-4 antigen characteristic of basal keratinocytes in skin and endocrine epithelium found in the subcapsular cortex and medulla of the thymus. Subpopulations of the cultured cells expressed the antigens detected by antibodies TE-8 and TE-15. In tissue sections antibodies TE-8 and TE-15 bound to the stratum granulosum and stratum corneum of skin and to the Hassall's bodies of thymus, and therefore recognize antigens characteristic of late stages of keratinized epithelial differentiation. In addition, a subset of thymic epithelial cells expressed the antigen detected by antibody TE-3 which is expressed by nonendocrine thymic epithelium found in the thymic cortex. Thus, in vitro cultures of both epidermal and thymic epithelial cells expressed the entire array of differentiation antigens detected by our panel of monoclonal antibodies. This approach can be used to evaluate the role of components of the thymic microenvironment at various stages of differentiation on developing T lymphocytes. In addition, the cultured epidermal cells can be used to evaluate epidermis as a site of extrathymic T cell maturation.
Singer, KH; Harden, EA; Robertson, AL; Lobach, DF; Haynes, BF
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