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Extrathymic T Cell Lymphopoiesis

Abstract : In the absence of thymopoiesis, T lymphocytes are nevertheless present, mainly in the gut epithelium. Ontogeny of the extrathymic pathway and the extent of its involvement in euthymic mice are controversial. These questions have been addressed by assessing the expression of recombinase activating gene (RAG) through the use of green fluorescent protein RAG2 transgenic mouse models. In athymic mice, T lymphopoiesis occurs mainly in the mesenteric lymph node and less in the Peyer's patches. Ontogenic steps of this lymphopoiesis resemble those of thymopoiesis, but with an apparent bias toward ␥␦ T cell production and with a paucity of oligoclonal ␣␤ T cells possibly resulting from a deficit in positive selection. Whether in athymic or euthymic mice, neither T intraepithelial lymphocytes (IEL) nor cryptopatch cells (reported to contain precursors of IEL) displayed fluorescence indicating recent RAG protein synthesis. Newly made T cells migrate from the mesenteric node into the thoracic duct lymph to reach the gut mucosa. In euthymic mice, this extrathymic pathway is totally repressed, except in conditions of severe lymphocytic depletion. Thus, in normal animals, all gut T IEL, including CD8 ␣␣ ϩ cells, are of thymic origin, CD8 ␣␣ ϩ TCR ␣␤ ϩ IEL being the likely progeny of double negative NK1-1 Ϫ thymocytes, which show polyclonal V ␣ and V ␤ repertoires.
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Delphine Guy-Grand, Orly Azogui, Susanna Celli, Sylvie Darche, Michel C Nussenzweig, et al.. Extrathymic T Cell Lymphopoiesis. Journal of Experimental Medicine, Rockefeller University Press, 2003, 197 (3), pp.333 - 341. ⟨10.1084/jem.20021639⟩. ⟨pasteur-03517301⟩

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