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J Immunol. 2010 Dec 15;185(12):7156-60. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1002781. Epub 2010 Nov 10.

Cutting edge: Intrinsic programming of thymic γδT cells for specific peripheral tissue localization.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Center for Molecular Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.


Various innate-like T cell subsets preferentially reside in specific epithelial tissues as the first line of defense. However, mechanisms regulating their tissue-specific development are poorly understood. Using the prototypical skin intraepithelial γδT cells (sIELs) as a model, we show in this study that a TCR-mediated selection plays an important role in promoting acquisition of a specific skin-homing property by fetal thymic sIEL precursors for their epidermal location, and the skin-homing potential is intrinsically programmed even before the selection. In addition, once localized in the skin, the sIEL precursors develop into sIELs without the requirement of further TCR-ligand interaction. These studies reveal that development of the tissue-specific lymphocytes is a hard-wired process that targets them to specific tissues for proper functions.

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