Article

Cutting Edge: A Thymocyte-Thymic Epithelial Cell Cross-Talk Dynamically Regulates Intrathymic IL-7 Expression In Vivo

Cytokines and Lymphoid Development Unit, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France.
The Journal of Immunology (Impact Factor: 5.36). 06/2010; 184(11):5949-53. DOI: 10.4049/jimmunol.1000601
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Thymic epithelial cells (TECs) are the predominant intrathymic source of the essential thymopoietin IL-7. Whether thymocyte-TEC interactions have a role in the regulation of IL-7 expression is not known. By exploiting IL-7 reporter mice in which yellow fluorescent protein expression identifies TECs expressing high levels of IL-7 (Il7(+) TECs), we show that Il7(+) TECs segregate from emerging medullary TECs during thymic organogenesis. Although Il7(+) TECs normally diminish with age, we found that Il7(+) TECs are markedly retained in alymphoid Rag2(-/-)Il2rg(-/-) IL-7 reporter mice that manifest a profound thymopoietic arrest. Transfer of Tcra(-/-) or wild-type (but not Rag2(-/-)) hematopoietic progenitors to alymphoid IL-7 reporter recipients normalizes the frequency of Il7(+) TECs and re-establishes cortical TEC/medullary TEC segregation. Although thymocyte-derived signals are often considered stimulatory for TEC maturation, our findings identify a negative feedback mechanism in which signals derived from TCRbeta-selected thymocytes modulate TEC-dependent IL-7 expression.

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