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Nat Immunol. 2012 Apr 1;13(5):511-8. doi: 10.1038/ni.2247.

Intrathymic programming of effector fates in three molecularly distinct γδ T cell subtypes.

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Department of Pathology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA.


Innate γδ T cells function in the early phase of immune responses. Although innate γδ T cells have often been studied as one homogenous population, they can be functionally classified into effector subsets on the basis of the production of signature cytokines, analogous to adaptive helper T cell subsets. However, unlike the function of adaptive T cells, γδ effector T cell function correlates with genomically encoded T cell antigen receptor (TCR) chains, which suggests that clonal TCR selection is not the main determinant of the differentiation of γδ effector cells. A high-resolution transcriptome analysis of all emergent γδ thymocyte subsets segregated on the basis of use of the TCR γ-chain or δ-chain indicated the existence of three separate subtypes of γδ effector cells in the thymus. The immature γδ subsets were distinguished by unique transcription-factor modules that program effector function.

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