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Journal Articles Immunity Year : 2006

Dynamics of thymus-colonizing cells during human development.

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Here, we identify fetal bone marrow (BM)-derived CD34hiCD45RAhiCD7+ hematopoietic progenitors as thymus-colonizing cells. This population, virtually absent from the fetal liver (FL), emerges in the BM by development weeks 8-9, where it accumulates throughout the second trimester, to finally decline around birth. Based on phenotypic, molecular, and functional criteria, we demonstrate that CD34hiCD45RAhiCD7+ cells represent the direct precursors of the most immature CD34hiCD1a- fetal thymocytes that follow a similar dynamics pattern during fetal and early postnatal development. Histological analysis of fetal thymuses further reveals that early immigrants predominantly localize in the perivascular areas of the cortex, where they form a lymphostromal complex with thymic epithelial cells (TECs) driving their rapid specification toward the T lineage. Finally, using an ex vivo xenogeneic thymus-colonization assay, we show that BM-derived CD34hiCD45RAhiCD7+ progenitors are selectively recruited into the thymus parenchyma in the absence of exogenous cytokines, where they adopt a definitive T cell fate.

Dates and versions

inserm-00164311 , version 1 (20-07-2007)



Rima Haddad, Fabien Guimiot, Emmanuelle Six, Frederic Jourquin, Niclas Setterblad, et al.. Dynamics of thymus-colonizing cells during human development.. Immunity, 2006, 24 (2), pp.217-30. ⟨10.1016/j.immuni.2006.01.008⟩. ⟨inserm-00164311⟩
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