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Science 296 (5574): 1876-1880

Copyright © 2002 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Dynamics of Thymocyte-Stromal Cell Interactions Visualized by Two-Photon Microscopy

Philippe Bousso,1 Nirav R. Bhakta,2* Richard S. Lewis,2 Ellen Robey1dagger

Thymocytes are selected to mature according to their ability to interact with self major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-peptide complexes displayed on the thymic stroma. Using two-photon microscopy, we performed real-time analysis of the cellular contacts made by developing thymocytes undergoing positive selection in a three-dimensional thymic organ culture. A large fraction of thymocytes within these cultures were highly motile. MHC recognition was found to increase the duration of thymocyte-stromal cell interactions and occurred as both long-lived cellular associations displaying stable cell-cell contacts and as shorter, highly dynamic contacts. Our results identify the diversity and dynamics of thymocyte interactions during positive selection.

1 Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.
2 Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
*   This author made independent, essential contributions to this work.

dagger    To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: erobey{at}

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