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Nat Immunol. 2003 Nov;4(11):1128-35. Epub 2003 Oct 5.

A domain of Foxn1 required for crosstalk-dependent thymic epithelial cell differentiation.

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Department of Genetics, Life Sciences Building, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602, USA.


Thymic epithelial cells (TECs) are required for T cell maturation within the thymus. In the nude (Foxn1(nu/nu)) mouse, TECs fail to differentiate. We have generated a hypomorphic allele called Foxn1(Delta), from which an N-terminal domain was deleted. The phenotype was thymus specific, identifying a tissue-specific activity for this domain. Foxn1(Delta/Delta) mice showed abnormal thymic architecture, lacking cortical and medullary domains. In contrast to thymi in mice with the null allele, the Foxn1(Delta/Delta) thymus promoted T cell development, but with specific defects at both the double-negative and double-positive stages. Thus, initiation and progression of TEC differentiation are genetically separable functions of Foxn1, and the N-terminal domain is required for crosstalk-dependent TEC differentiation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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