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Eur J Immunol. 1995 Jul;25(7):1877-82.

Intra- and extra-thymic expression of the pre-T cell receptor alpha gene.

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Basel Institute for Immunology, Switzerland.


We have analyzed pre-T cell receptor alpha (pT alpha) gene expression in cells from various anatomical sites to investigate the lineage specificity of pT alpha RNA as well as its presence in pro-T cells and in sites of extrathymic T cell development. pT alpha RNA is found in precursors of alpha beta T cells but is absent from mature alpha beta T cells as well as T cells that express the gamma delta T cell receptor on the cell surface. pT alpha expression is exquisitely T lineage specific in that mature and immature B cells, myeloid cells, NK cells and pluripotent stem cells are pT alpha negative. On the other hand, pT alpha expression is found in pro-T cells outside the thymus as well as in intra- and extra-thymic sites of T cell development. The latter finding is consistent with the notion that early steps of T cell development within and outside the thymus may be similar.

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