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Curr Biol. 2000 Nov 30;10(23):1515-8.

Directed differentiation of dendritic cells from mouse embryonic stem cells.

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Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, OX1 3RE,., Oxford, UK.


Dendritic cells (DCs) are uniquely capable of presenting antigen to naive T cells, either eliciting immunity [1] or ensuring self-tolerance [2]. This property identifies DCs as potential candidates for enhancing responses to foreign [3] and tumour antigens [4], and as targets for immune intervention in the treatment of autoimmunity and allograft rejection [1]. Realisation of their therapeutic potential would be greatly facilitated by a fuller understanding of the function of DC-specific genes, a goal that has frequently proven elusive because of the paucity of stable lines of DCs that retain their unique properties, and the inherent resistance of primary DCs to genetic modification. Protocols for the genetic manipulation of embryonic stem (ES) cells are, by contrast, well established [5], as is their capacity to differentiate into a wide variety of cell types in vitro, including many of hematopoietic origin [6]. Here, we report the establishment, from mouse ES cells, of long-term cultures of immature DCs that share many characteristics with macrophages, but acquire, upon maturation, the allostimulatory capacity and surface phenotype of classical DCs, including expression of CD11c, major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II and co-stimulatory molecules. This novel source should prove valuable for the generation of primary, untransformed DCs in which candidate genes have been overexpressed or functionally ablated, while providing insights into the earliest stages of DC ontogeny.

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