Human postnatal CD4- CD8- CD3- thymic T cell precursors differentiate in vitro into T cell receptor delta-bearing cells.
The signals required for activation and the differentiation of human triple negative postnatal thymocytes were studied in vitro. Highly purified populations of CD4-, CD8-, CD3- (triple negative) thymocytes were isolated by combined panning and preparative cell sorting and the ability of triple negative thymocytes to proliferate in response to various cytokines determined. Maximal triple negative proliferation was obtained using a mitogenic combination of CD2 antibodies and either rIL-2 or the phorbol ester, PMA. Long term growth (2 to 6 wk) of postnatal triple negative thymocytes was best achieved using CD2 antibodies and rIL-2. After in vitro culture with CD2 antibodies and rIL-2, triple negative thymocytes gave rise to TCR-delta+ cells beginning on day 2 of culture (approximately 15% CD3/TCR-delta+) reaching maximum (approximately 60% CD3/TCR-delta+) on day 7 with stable number of TCR-delta+ cells observed in vitro for up to 6 wk. Analysis of 30 clones of human postnatal triple negative thymocytes demonstrated 9 of 30 (30%) were TCR-delta+, beta F1-, essentially ruling out overgrowth of the triple negative population over time by a minor pool of contaminating TCR-delta+ cells. Thus, these studies have defined an in vitro culture system for human postnatal T cell precursors and demonstrated that precursors of human TCR-gamma delta+ T cells reside in the triple negative thymocyte pool.
Denning, SM; Kurtzberg, J; Leslie, DS; Haynes, BF
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