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Immunity. 2004 Jun;20(6):735-45.

Heterogeneity among DN1 prothymocytes reveals multiple progenitors with different capacities to generate T cell and non-T cell lineages.

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The University of Miami School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Miami, FL 33101, USA.


The nature of early T lineage progenitors in the thymus or bone marrow remains controversial. Here we assess lineage capacity and proliferative potential among five distinct components of the earliest intrathymic stage (DN1, CD25(-)44(+)). All of these express one or more hemato-lymphoid lineage markers. All can produce T lineage cells, but only two of them display kinetics of differentiation, proliferative capacity, and other traits consistent with being canonical T progenitors. The latter also appeared limited to producing cells of the T or NK lineages, while B lineage potential derived mainly from the other, less typical T progenitors. In addition to precisely defining canonical early progenitors in the thymus, this work reconciles conflicting results from numerous groups by showing that multiple progenitors with a DN1 phenotype home to the thymus and make T cells, but possess different proliferative potentials and lineage capacities.

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