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

Flt3 ligand plus IL-7 supports the expansion of murine thymic B cell progenitors that can mature intrathymically.

Flt3 ligand (flt3L) has potent effects on hemopoietic progenitors, dendritic cells, and B lymphopoiesis. We have investigated the effects of flt3L on intrathymic precursors. The addition of flt3L + IL-7 to lobe submersion cultures of murine fetal thymic lobes resulted in the expansion of an immature population of Thy-1(low), CD44(high), HSA(high) cells. This population contained cells with precursor activity, as determined by their capacity to repopulate deoxyguanosine-treated fetal thymic lobes. Upon reentry to the thymic lobe, flt3L + IL-7-cultured Thy-1(low), CD44(high), HSA(high) cells underwent expansion and differentiation into B cells. Two weeks after fetal thymic organ culture following thymic lobe reconstitution, intrathymic cells were Thy-1-, B220+, and a subset was sIgM+. The intrathymic B cells shared features of adult thymic B cells, including CD5 expression and proliferative responses to IL-4 + IL-5 + CD40 ligand, but not to LPS or soluble anti-IgM. Ig production was noted upon stimulation with IL-4 + IL-5 + LPS and IL-4 + IL-5 + CD40 ligand. In conclusion, we have demonstrated that flt3L + IL-7 supports the expansion of a subset of progenitors present in the fetal thymus. The cultured progenitors can repopulate a fetal thymic lobe and develop into mature functional B cells, demonstrating that the fetal thymus is able to support B cell as well as T cell development.[1]


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