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J Exp Med. 2002 Sep 2;196(5):705-11.

The earliest step in B lineage differentiation from common lymphoid progenitors is critically dependent upon interleukin 7.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Little is known about the signals that promote early B lineage differentiation from common lymphoid progenitors (CLPs). Using a stromal-free culture system, we show that interleukin (IL)-7 is sufficient to promote the in vitro differentiation of CLPs into B220(+) CD19(+) B lineage progenitors. Consistent with current models of early B cell development, surface expression of B220 was initiated before CD19 and was accompanied by the loss of T lineage potential. To address whether IL-7 receptor (R) activity is essential for early B lineage development in vivo, we examined the frequencies of CLPs and downstream pre-pro- and pro-B cells in adult mice lacking either the alpha chain or the common gamma chain (gamma(c)) of the IL-7R. The data indicate that although gamma(c)(-/-) mice have normal frequencies of CLPs, both gamma(c)(-/-) and IL-7R(alpha)(-/-) mice lack detectable numbers of all downstream early B lineage precursors, including pre-pro-B cells. These findings challenge previous notions regarding the point in B cell development affected by the loss of IL-7R signaling and suggest that IL-7 plays a key and requisite role during the earliest phases of B cell development.

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