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Thymus. 1990 Mar;15(2):65-78.

'Radioresistant' CD4-CD8- intrathymic T cell precursors differentiate into mature CD4+CD8- and CD4-CD8+ T cells. Development of 'radioresistant' CD4-CD8- intrathymic T cell precursors.

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Department of Immunology, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan.


Using lectin (PNA) and monoclonal antibodies for Pgp-1, IL-2R, H-2k, CD3, and F23.1 (T cell receptor V beta 8), we characterized the 'radioresistant' CD4-CD8- double negative thymocytes at an early stage after 800 rad irradiation. Most of the CD4-CD8- cells on day 8 after irradiation expressed a high level of Thy-1, H-2k, and PNA, while a small proportion of these cells were CD3+ and/or F23.1+. The appearance of Pgp-1 and IL-2R on the 'radioresistant' double negative precursors was also sequentially examined from day 5 to day 9 after irradiation. The double negative thymocytes at day 5 expressed the highest level of Pgp-1 antigens and these cells gradually decreased in number from day 7 to day 9. By contrast, IL-2R was transiently expressed on the double negative cells on the day 7 and 8 after irradiation. These results indicate that progression of thymocyte development occurred within the CD4-CD8- thymocytes after irradiation. We further examined the homing ability of the double negative 'radioresistant' intrathymic T cell precursors to the periphery by intrathymic cell transplantation method. The double negative thymocytes proliferate and differentiate into CD4+CD8+ cells and CD4+CD8- cells but few CD4-CD8+ cells in the thymus, while only CD4-CD8+ cells were detected in the peripheral lymphoid organs 14 days after intrathymic transplantation of the double negative cells in the H-2 compatible Thy-1 congenic mice. These results suggest that the 'radioresistant' intrathymic precursors differentiate and mature in the thymus and migrate to the periphery.

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