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Eur J Immunol. 1999 Jan;29(1):75-80.

Studies on the phenotype of migrant thymic stem cells.

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Department of Anatomy, Medical School, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, GB.


Stem cells first enter the thymus around the 11th to 12th days of gestation in BALB/c mouse embryos. The phenotype of these stem cells has been difficult to determine because their entry occurs when the thymic primordium is very small and involves too few stem cells to allow studies by flow cytometry. We have been able to microdissect the thymus from embryos during this stage and immunophenotype cells in sections using a sensitive tyramide amplification system. Our results show that migrant stem cells express CD45, c-kit, CD44, CD34 and alpha4 integrin, but other markers such as CD62L, CD25, Thy-1.2, CD3epsilon, alpha5 integrin and RAG-1 expression are detected only after stem cell entry. These results should help to improve the isolation and characterization of migrant thymic stem cells.

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