Generation of both cortical and Aire(+) medullary thymic epithelial compartments from CD205(+) progenitors

Song Baik, Eric J Jenkinson, Peter J L Lane, Graham Anderson, William Jenkinson

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In the adult thymus, the development of self-tolerant thymocytes requires interactions with thymic epithelial cells (TECs). Although both cortical and medullary TECs (cTECs/mTECs) are known to arise from common bipotent TEC progenitors, the phenotype of these progenitors and the timing of the emergence of these distinct lineages remain unclear. Here, we have investigated the phenotype and developmental properties of bipotent TEC progenitors during cTEC/mTEC lineage development. We show that TEC progenitors can undergo a stepwise acquisition of first cTEC and then mTEC hallmarks, resulting in the emergence of a progenitor population simultaneously expressing the cTEC marker CD205 and the mTEC regulator Receptor Activator of NF-κB (RANK). In vivo analysis reveals the capacity of CD205 TECs to generate functionally competent cortical and medullary microenvironments containing both cTECs and Aire mTECs. Thus, TEC development involves a stage in which bipotent progenitors can co-express hallmarks of the cTEC and mTEC lineages through sequential acquisition, arguing against a simple binary model in which both lineages diverge simultaneously from bipotent lineage negative TEC progenitors. Rather, our data reveal an unexpected overlap in the phenotypic properties of these bipotent TECs with their lineage-restricted counterparts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-94
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Issue number3
Early online date11 Feb 2013
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013

Bibliographical note

© 2013 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.


  • Cellular immunology
  • Developmental immunology
  • Thymic epithelial cells


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