Thymic Origin of Intestinal αß T Cells Revealed by Fate Mapping of RORγt+ Cells

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Science  09 Jul 2004:
Vol. 305, Issue 5681, pp. 248-251
DOI: 10.1126/science.1096472

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Intestinal intraepithelial T lymphocytes (IELs) are likely to play a key role in host mucosal immunity and, unlike other T cells, have been proposed to differentiate from local precursors rather than from thymocytes. We show here that IELs expressingthe αβ T cell receptor are derived from precursors that express RORγt, an orphan nuclear hormone receptor detected only in immature CD4+CD8+ thymocytes, fetal lymphoid tissue–inducer (LTi) cells, and LTi-like cells in cryptopatches within the adult intestinal lamina propria. Using cell fate mapping, we found that all intestinal αβ T cells are progeny of CD4+CD8+ thymocytes, indicatingthat the adult intestine is not a significant site for αβ T cell development. Our results suggest that intestinal RORγt+ cells are local organizers of mucosal lymphoid tissue.

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