Human intrathymic T cell differentiation.
The human thymus develops early on in fetal gestation with morphologic maturity reached by the beginning of the second trimester. Endodermal epithelial tissue from the third pharyngeal pouch gives rise to TE3+ cortical thymic epithelium while ectodermal epithelial tissue from the third pharyngeal cleft invaginates and splits during development to give rise to A2B5/TE4+ medullary and subcapsular cortical thymic epithelium. Fetal liver CD7+ T cell precursors begin to colonize the thymus between 7 and 8 weeks of fetal gestation, followed by rapid expression on thymocytes of other T lineage surface molecules. Human thymic epithelial cells grown in vitro bind to mature and immature thymocytes via CD2 and CD11a/CD18 (LFA-1) molecules on thymocytes and by CD58 (LFA-3) and CD54 (ICAM-1) molecules on thymic epithelial cells. Thymic epithelial cells produce numerous cytokines including IL1, IL6, G-CSF, M-CSF, and GM-CSF--molecules that likely are important in various stages of thymocyte activation and differentiation. Thymocytes can be activated via several cell surface molecules including CD2, CD3/TCR, and CD28 molecules. Finally, CD7+ CD4-CD8- CD3- thymocytes give rise to T cells of both the TCRab+ and TCR gd+ lineages.
Haynes, BF; Denning, SM; Le, PT; Singer, KH
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