Checkpoints in the development of thymic cortical epithelial cells

Saba Shakib, Guillaume Desanti, William Jenkinson, Sonia M. Parnell, Eric Jenkinson, Graham Anderson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Citations (Scopus)


In the thymus, interactions between immature thymocytes and thymic epithelial cells (TECs) regulate the development and selection of self-tolerant MHC-restricted T cells. Despite the importance of cortical (cTEC) and medullary (mTEC) thymic epithelial cells in fostering T cell production, events in TEC development are still unclear. Although precursor-product relationships during mTEC development have been reported, and some genetic regulators of mTEC development have been identified, stages in cTEC development occurring downstream of recently identified bipotent cTEC/mTEC progenitors remain poorly defined. In this study, we combine analysis of differentiation, proliferation, and gene expression of TECs in the murine thymus, that has enabled us to identify cTEC progenitors, define multiple stages in cTEC development, and identify novel checkpoints in development of the cTEC lineage. We show an essential requirement for FoxN1 in the initial development of cTEC from bipotent progenitors, and demonstrate a stage-specific requirement for CD48thymocytes in later stages of cTEC development. Collectively, our data establish a program of cTEC development that should provide insight into the formation and function of the thymic cortex for T cell development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-137
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by a Medical Research Council Programme Grant (to E.J.J. and G.A.), and the European Union-funded FP6 Thymaide Integrated Project.


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