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Cell Immunol. 1996 May 1;169(2):174-84.

Positive selection by thymic nurse cells requires IL-1 beta and is associated with an increased Bcl-2 expression.

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Department of Biology, City College of New York 10031, USA.


A temperature-sensitive line of thymic nurse cells (tsTNC-1) that maintains the ability to selectively internalize immature alpha beta TCRloCD4+CD8+ thymocytes in vitro was used in long-term coincubation experiments to determine nurse cell function during the process of MHC restriction. The thymocyte subset released from its association with TNCs contained both viable and apoptotic cells. The cells that remained within intracytoplasmic vacuoles died through the process of programmed cell death. Surviving or rescued thymocytes in the released population displayed an increase in Bcl-2 protein expression. The rescue activity of TNCs was drastically reduced with the addition of antibodies against either class I or class II MHC antigens to cocultures. A subset of the TNC-rescued population matured from the alpha beta TCRloCD69- phenotype to alpha beta TCRhiCD(69+)-expressing cells only when IL-1 beta was added to cocultures. These results suggest that TNC rescue of early double-positive thymocytes from apoptosis is associated with an interaction between the TCR and the MHC and the onset of Bcl-2 expression. Maturation of thymocytes within the TNC-rescued population requires the costimulatory effects of IL-1 beta.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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