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Eur J Immunol. 2009 Apr;39(4):925-30. doi: 10.1002/eji.200838912.

Thymic emigration: sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor-1-dependent models and beyond.

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  • 1Department of Rheumatology, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium.


The thymus is a primary lymphoid organ supporting the development of self-tolerant T cells. Key events in T-cell development in the thymus include lineage commitment, selection events, and thymic emigration. This review discusses the proposed role of sphingosine-1-phosphate and its receptors in the emigration of both conventional and unconventional T-cell subsets from the thymus, and the molecular machinery currently understood to regulate this process. Furthermore, we highlight a role for chemokines and actin-associated proteins in T-cell motility as recent data suggest that T-cell emigration is regulated by more than just a sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor-1-dependent chemotactic axis.

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