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Sci. Signal., 15 November 2011
Vol. 4, Issue 199, p. ra77
[DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2002246]


Editor's Summary

Programming T Cell Survival
The development of thymocytes in the thymus critically depends on signals through the T cell antigen receptor (TCR) and the receptor for the homeostatic cytokine interleukin-7 (IL-7). During development, thymocytes lose IL-7Rα but regain the receptor after they receive signals through the TCR in a process known as positive selection. When thymocytes leave the thymus as mature T lymphocytes and move to peripheral lymphoid organs, they still depend on TCR and IL-7R signaling for their survival. Sinclair et al. found that TCR signaling in developing thymocytes in the mouse activated the reexpression of Il7r and the reappearance of IL-7Rα on the cell surface. The abundance of surface IL-7Rα correlated with the strength of positive selection, and those T cells with the highest abundance of IL-7Rα had the greatest chance of survival in the periphery. In contrast, TCR signaling in peripheral T cells did not alter the abundance or function of IL-7Rα. Together, these data suggest that TCR-dependent regulation of IL-7Rα abundance on thymocytes determines the long-term survivability of the resulting T cells.

Citation: C. Sinclair, M. Saini, I. Schim van der Loeff, S. Sakaguchi, B. Seddon, The Long-Term Survival Potential of Mature T Lymphocytes Is Programmed During Development in the Thymus. Sci. Signal. 4, ra77 (2011).

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