Most IL-4-producing gamma delta thymocytes of adult mice originate from fetal precursors

Kalliopi Grigoriadou, Laurent Boucontet, Pablo Pereira
Journal of Immunology 2003 September 1, 171 (5): 2413-20
Thy-1(dull) gammadelta T cells constitute a distinct adult gammadelta T cell subset characterized by the expression of a TCR composed of Vgamma1Cgamma4 and Vdelta6Cdelta chains with limited junctional sequence diversity. However, several features of the expressed Thy-1(dull) TCR-gammadelta genes, in particular the absence or minimal presence of N region diversity and the almost invariable Ddelta2-Jdelta1 junction, are typical of rearrangements often found in the fetal thymus. In this study, we have investigated the origin of these cells. Few Thy-1(dull) gammadelta thymocytes developed in syngeneic radiation adult chimeras, regardless of whether the recipient mice were given adult bone marrow or fetal liver cells as a source of hemopoietic precursors. In contrast, normal numbers of Thy-1(dull) gammadelta T cells developed in fetal thymi grafted into adult syngeneic recipients. Interestingly, the majority of Thy-1(dull) gammadelta thymocytes present in the grafts were of graft origin, even when most conventional gammadelta and alphabeta thymocytes in the grafted thymi originated from T cell precursors of recipient origin. Single-cell PCR analyses of the nonselected TCR-gamma rearrangements present in adult Thy-1(dull) gammadelta thymocytes revealed that more than one-half of these cells represent the progenies of a limited number of clones that greatly expanded possibly during the first weeks of life. Finally, the second TCR-delta allele of a large number of Thy-1(dull) gammadelta T cells contained incomplete TCR-delta rearrangements, thus providing an explanation for the adult-type rearrangements previously found among nonfunctional V(D)J rearrangements present in Thy-1(dull) gammadelta thymocytes.

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