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J Exp Med. 2011 Feb 14;208(2):383-94. doi: 10.1084/jem.20102327. Epub 2011 Feb 7.

Aire-dependent production of XCL1 mediates medullary accumulation of thymic dendritic cells and contributes to regulatory T cell development.

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  • 1Division of Experimental Immunology, Institute for Genome Research, University of Tokushima, Tokushima, Japan.


Dendritic cells (DCs) in the thymus (tDCs) are predominantly accumulated in the medulla and contribute to the establishment of self-tolerance. However, how the medullary accumulation of tDCs is regulated and involved in self-tolerance is unclear. We show that the chemokine receptor XCR1 is expressed by tDCs, whereas medullary thymic epithelial cells (mTECs) express the ligand XCL1. XCL1-deficient mice are defective in the medullary accumulation of tDCs and the thymic generation of naturally occurring regulatory T cells (nT reg cells). Thymocytes from XCL1-deficient mice elicit dacryoadenitis in nude mice. mTEC expression of XCL1, tDC medullary accumulation, and nT reg cell generation are diminished in Aire-deficient mice. These results indicate that the XCL1-mediated medullary accumulation of tDCs contributes to nT reg cell development and is regulated by Aire.

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