Developmental Options

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Science  16 Oct 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5388, pp. 424-425
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5388.424

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Dendritic cells (DCs) are immune cells that migrate from peripheral tissues to lymph nodes, where they guard the body against foreign invaders. Their exact origin, however, remains obscure. Experiments in cell culture have suggested that cytokines control the developmental choice of their precursors, monocytes, to become macrophages or DCs. But this may not be the whole story. In their Perspective, Shortman and Maraskovsky discuss the results of Randolph et al., reported in the same issue, which suggest that the migration process itself is central to the differentiation of macrophages and DCs. Future studies will need to address whether signals generated by the migration process differ from those generated by cytokine-driven cultures to promote DC development.