CCR7 controls thymus recirculation, but not production and emigration, of Foxp3+ T cells

Jennifer Cowan, Nicholas McCarthy, Graham Anderson

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37 Citations (Scopus)
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Current models of Foxp3+ regulatory T cell (Treg) development involve CCR7-mediated migration of thymocytes into the thymus medulla to enable essential interactions with medullary epithelium. However, increased Foxp3+ thymic Treg numbers in Ccr7−/− mice challenge this view, and the role of CCR7 in Treg development, emigration, and/or recirculation is unknown. Here, we have examined CCR7 and Rag2pGFP levels during Treg development and generated Rag2pGFPCcr7−/− mice to study its impact on the intrathymic Treg pool. We reveal surprising developmental heterogeneity in thymocytes described as Treg precursors, showing that they contain recirculating CCR6+CCR7Rag2pGFP T cells. Although CCR7 defines bona fide Rag2GFP+ Treg precursors, it is not required for Treg production and emigration. Rather, we show that lack of CCR7 renders the thymus more receptive to Treg thymus homing. Our study reveals a role for CCR7 in limiting Treg recirculation back to the thymus and enables separation of the mechanisms controlling Treg production and thymic recirculation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1041–1048
Number of pages8
JournalCell Reports
Issue number5
Early online date28 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2016


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