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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Prolonged expression of high molecular mass CD45RA isoform during the differentiation of human progenitor thymocytes to CD3+ cells in vitro.

CD45, the leukocyte common Ag, has been shown to characterize T cell development both within the thymus and among peripheral T cells. The work reported here demonstrates that human multinegative (MN) thymocytes, depleted of cells bearing CD3, CD4, CD8, and CD19, express predominantly the high molecular mass CD45RA isoform, and lack low molecular mass CD45RB isoforms and CD45R0 as detected by immunofluorescence. By immunoprecipitation of surface-labeled CD45 molecules from MN thymocytes, a proportion of the CD45 is in fact of low molecular mass but does not include epitopes recognized by CD45R0, nor by CD45RB mAb specific for the p190. This suggests either glycosylation variants of CD45RB/CD45R0 undetectable by our mAb, or underglycosylated CD45RA. MN thymocytes lack TCR-alpha beta mRNA confirming their early developmental stage. Upon culture with IL-2 or with mitogenic combinations of anti-CD2/CD28 mAb, MN thymocytes differentiate to acquire CD3, TCR-alpha beta, and in some cases CD4 and/or CD8. We have predicted that maintenance of CD45RA and lack of CD45R0 expression is fundamental to generative thymic development. If correct, this demands that unlike peripheral T cells, differentiation of MN thymocytes should be accompanied by prolonged expression of high molecular mass CD45 isoforms. Analysis of CD45 isoform expression during MN thymocyte development confirms this prediction and indicates that expression of CD45RA is maintained, at increasing density, for at least 8 to 12 days of culture. Unlike peripheral blood T cells, this is accompanied by the gradual acquisition of firstly the p190 isoforms of CD45RB and later by CD45R0, resulting in a population of CD3+TCR-alpha beta cells coexpressing CD45RA/RBp190/R0. Dot blot analysis of mRNA from differentiating MN thymocytes indicates prolonged expression of mRNA encoding CD45 exons a, b, and c, again in contrast to peripheral T cells which lose all mRNA for alternatively spliced CD45 exons within the first 24 h poststimulation. This is discussed in the context of negative selection during thymic development and interconversion of T cell subsets.[1]


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