Author(s): Mry T, Karsunky H
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Abstract One important pillar of cellular immune defense in mammals is the T-lymphoid compartment which produces cells that are able to specifically recognize foreign peptide antigens through a membrane-bound receptor. These T-cells can trigger a variety of defense mechanisms upon antigen stimulation ranging from the production of potent cytokines to the direct killing of virus-infected cells. The production of such highly specialized T-cells takes place in the thymus and requires a stringent process of differentiation and selection of precursor cells that are delivered from the bone marrow. In the thymus, several waves of proliferative expansion and selection ensure the production of a large repertoire of antigen-specific T-cells that each bear a unique T-cell receptor (TCR) which is able to recognize foreign antigens but can tolerate the own host-specific peptide structures. Education of precursors to mature T-cells in the thymus requires a dense network of regulatory processes acting at receptor-ligand interactions, signal transduction, genomic rearrangement of TCR gene loci, cell cycle progression, transcriptional control and programmed cell death.
This article was published in Cell Mol Life Sci
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Cellular Immunology