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Dev Comp Immunol. 2001 May;25(4):323-36.

In vitro thymocyte differentiation in MHC class I-negative Xenopus larvae.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Box 672, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.


CTX is a surface antigen whose expression in larval and adult Xenopus is primarily restricted to MHC class I-negative immature cortical thymocytes. In adult Xenopus, surface expression of CTX marks a population of MHC class I(-) CD8(+) immature thymocytes that appears to be the equivalent of the mammalian CD4CD8 double positive subset. The present study reveals that transient in vitro exposure of immature CTX(+) thymocytes from MHC class I-negative tadpoles to suboptimal mitogenic concentrations of phorbol ester (PMA) plus ionomycin, induces larval cells to differentiate into more mature T-lymphoblasts that express high level of surface CD5 and CD45. These T-lymphoblasts have downregulated CTX, Rag 1 and TdT genes, whereas TCR-beta genes remain actively transcribed. Signaling induced by PMA/ionomycin modulates both class I and class II expression of MHC class I/II-negative larval thymocytes. This study also reveals that larval T-lymphoblasts are composed of two distinct subsets: CD5(high)CD8(-) and CD5 (high)CD8 (high).

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