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J Exp Med. 2013 Apr 8;210(4):683-97. doi: 10.1084/jem.20121798. Epub 2013 Mar 25.

Specific Notch receptor-ligand interactions control human TCR-αβ/γδ development by inducing differential Notch signal strength.

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The Department of Clinical Chemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent University Hospital, 9000 Ghent, Belgium.


In humans, high Notch activation promotes γδ T cell development, whereas lower levels promote αβ-lineage differentiation. How these different Notch signals are generated has remained unclear. We show that differential Notch receptor-ligand interactions mediate this process. Whereas Delta-like 4 supports both TCR-αβ and -γδ development, Jagged1 induces mainly αβ-lineage differentiation. In contrast, Jagged2-mediated Notch activation primarily results in γδ T cell development and represses αβ-lineage differentiation by inhibiting TCR-β formation. Consistently, TCR-αβ T cell development is rescued through transduction of a TCR-β transgene. Jagged2 induces the strongest Notch signal through interactions with both Notch1 and Notch3, whereas Delta-like 4 primarily binds Notch1. In agreement, Notch3 is a stronger Notch activator and only supports γδ T cell development, whereas Notch1 is a weaker activator supporting both TCR-αβ and -γδ development. Fetal thymus organ cultures in JAG2-deficient thymic lobes or with Notch3-blocking antibodies confirm the importance of Jagged2/Notch3 signaling in human TCR-γδ differentiation. Our findings reveal that differential Notch receptor-ligand interactions mediate human TCR-αβ and -γδ T cell differentiation and provide a mechanistic insight into the high Notch dependency of human γδ T cell development.

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