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The thymic microenvironment involves complex cell interactions among different types of epithelial cells, macrophages, tissue histiocytes, and immature and maturing T cells. We describe the isolation of a subset of thymic epithelial cells by selective primary culture followed by cotransfection with a simian virus 40 replication-origin-defective mutant and pSV2neo plasmid. The cloned cells have the composite immunophenotype that is unique to thymic subcapsular epithelial cells, suggesting that they may provide a model system in vitro for analyzing the earliest steps in T-cell differentiation. This possibility is supported by the finding that these epithelial cells express LFA-3-associated binding sites for T cells, secrete a macrophage hemopoietic growth factor, and synergize with macrophages in the production of interleukin 1.

Original publication




Journal article


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Publication Date





4999 - 5003


Epithelium, Thymus Gland, T-Lymphocytes, Hematopoietic Stem Cells, Clone Cells, Macrophages, Epithelial Cells, Humans, Colony-Stimulating Factors, Lymphocyte Function-Associated Antigen-1, Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte, Interleukin-1, Antigens, Surface, Cell Differentiation