Although the thymic microenvironment provides the necessary elements for T-cell differentiation, the precise role of individual components remains to be determined. In this paper, attempts were made to address the possibility that CD4 or CD8 single-positive (SP) thymocytes could be developed from immature CD4+CD8+ (double-positive; DP) thymocytes in a suspension culture in the presence of soluble factors. We observed that IL-4 and IFN-γ weakly induced DP cells to differentiate to CD4 cells, but not to CD8. In contrast, IL-2 weakly induced differentiation to CD8. Interestingly, Con A sup strongly induced differentiation to CD8 SP from the purified DP thymocytes prepared from C57BL/6 or LCMV TCRtg mice. In particular, it was found that thymocyte culture with Con A sup generated CD69+DP cells, and the CD69+DP differentiated to CD8 SP under the suspension culture with soluble factors. Thus, Con A sup or combinations of IL-2, IL-4 and IL-7 strongly induced differentiation of CD69+DP to CD8 SP, whereas individual cytokines did not. These results suggest that soluble factors like cytokines play an important role in the generation of SP thymocytes in the absence of thymic stromal cells, at least from a distinctive subpopulation like CD69+DP thymocytes, and perhaps from those of broader range when in conjunction with TCR/MHC interaction.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Developmental Biology
- Cell Biology
- Cancer Research