A subset of CD4+ thymocytes selected by MHC class I molecules

Science  25 Mar 1994:
Vol. 263, Issue 5154, pp. 1774-1778
DOI: 10.1126/science.7907820


To complete their maturation, most immature thymocytes depend on the simultaneous engagement of their antigen receptor [alpha beta T cell receptor (TCR)] and their CD4 or CD8 coreceptors with major histocompatibility complex class II or I ligands, respectively. However, a normal subset of mature alpha beta TCR+ thymocytes did not follow these rules. These thymocytes expressed NK1.1 and a restricted set of alpha beta TCRs that are intrinsically class I-reactive because their positive selection was class I-dependent but CD8-independent. These cells were CD4+ and CD4-8- but never CD8+, because the presence of CD8 caused negative selection. Thus, neither CD4 nor CD8 contributes signals that direct their maturation into the CD4+ and CD4-8- lineages.

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