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Cell Rep. 2017 Oct 24;21(4):934-942. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.09.090.

Thymospheres Are Formed by Mesenchymal Cells with the Potential to Generate Adipocytes, but Not Epithelial Cells.

Author information

1
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Parkville, VIC, Australia; Department of Medical Biology, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.
2
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Parkville, VIC, Australia.
3
Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Monash University, Clayton, VIC, Australia.
4
Department of Immunology, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel.
5
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Parkville, VIC, Australia; Department of Medical Biology, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Electronic address: dgray@wehi.edu.au.

Abstract

Evidence suggests that a stem-cell-driven differentiation hierarchy maintains the dynamic thymic epithelial cell (TEC) network that governs T lymphocyte development. The identification of TEC stem/progenitor cells has been a major focus in the field, and several candidates with contrasting phenotypes have been described. We sought to determine the provenance and function of the only population reported to exhibit TEC stem cell properties in the adult, a Foxn1- EpCAM- cell that generates so-called thymospheres. We provide evidence that the thymosphere-forming cell (TSFC) is not a TEC stem cell but can incorporate bystander TECs into thymospheres, providing an explanation for the epithelial activity ascribed to these structures. TSFCs were found to share a phenotype, transcriptional profile, and developmental origin with thymic fibroblasts and can generate adipocytes. In summary, this study redefines the nature of bipotent TEC stem/progenitor cells in the adult thymus and highlights a potentially important mesenchymal progenitor population.

KEYWORDS:

MSC; adipocyte; mesenchyme; progenitor; stem cell; thymic epithelial cell; thymosphere; thymus

PMID:
29069601
DOI:
10.1016/j.celrep.2017.09.090
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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