Journal article

Thymic epithelial cells: the multi-tasking framework of the T cell "cradle"

Nuno L Alves, Nicholas D Huntington, Hans-Reimer Rodewald, James P Di Santo

Trends in Immunology | ELSEVIER SCI LTD | Published : 2009


The thymus provides the anatomical "cradle" that fosters developing thymocytes. Thymic epithelial cells (TECs) are specialized cellular components that may be viewed as a multifunctional "frame" to nurture distinct stages of thymopoiesis. A symbiotic relationship between TECs and thymocytes exists because reciprocal interactions are required to achieve complete maturation of both cell types. Here, we propose that crucial instructive signals delivered by developing thymocytes negatively regulate functional attributes of immature TECs (including the expression of Delta-like 4 (DLL4) and interleukin-7 (IL-7)) that are required during early stages of thymopoiesis, while promoting the diversifica..

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Awarded by Deutsche Forschungsgerneinschaft

Funding Acknowledgements

N.L.A., N.D.H., J.P.D. are supported by grants from the Institut Pasteur, INSERM, Ligue National Contre le Cancer (Equipe Labelisee), the Fondation pour le Recherche Medicale, France and the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), Portugal. H.R.R. is supported by grants from the Deutsche Forschungsgerneinschaft (SFB497-B5 and KF0142-P). We thank Drs Antonio Bandeira and Antonio A. Freitas for critical reading of the manuscript. We apologize for not referring to all of the primary literature owing to space limitations.