Author(s): GarcaPeydr M, de Ybenes VG, Toribio ML
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Abstract Notch signaling is critical for T cell development of multipotent hemopoietic progenitors. Yet, how Notch regulates T cell fate specification during early thymopoiesis remains unclear. In this study, we have identified an early subset of CD34high c-kit+ flt3+ IL-7Ralpha+ cells in the human postnatal thymus, which includes primitive progenitors with combined lymphomyeloid potential. To assess the impact of Notch signaling in early T cell development, we expressed constitutively active Notch1 in such thymic lymphomyeloid precursors (TLMPs), or triggered their endogenous Notch pathway in the OP9-Delta-like1 stroma coculture. Our results show that proliferation vs differentiation is a critical decision influenced by Notch at the TLMP stage. We found that Notch signaling plays a prominent role in inhibiting non-T cell differentiation (i.e., macrophages, dendritic cells, and NK cells) of TLMPs, while sustaining the proliferation of undifferentiated thymocytes with T cell potential in response to unique IL-7 signals. However, Notch activation is not sufficient for inducing T-lineage progression of proliferating progenitors. Rather, stroma-derived signals are concurrently required. Moreover, while ectopic IL-7R expression cannot replace Notch for the maintenance and expansion of undifferentiated thymocytes, Notch signals sustain IL-7R expression in proliferating thymocytes and induce IL-7R up-regulation in a T cell line. Thus, IL-7R and Notch pathways cooperate to synchronize cell proliferation and suppression of non-T lineage choices in primitive intrathymic progenitors, which will be allowed to progress along the T cell pathway only upon interaction with an inductive stromal microenvironment. These data provide insight into a mechanism of Notch-regulated amplification of the intrathymic pool of early human T cell progenitors.
This article was published in J Immunol
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Cellular Immunology