Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The thymic microenvironment consists of a network of interrelated cells of epithelial, fibroblastic, endothelial, and hemopoietic origin. Within this environment, the development of specific T-lymphocyte subpopulations partially depends on the selective interaction of T-cell precursors with such cells. Human thymic epithelial cell strains, generated with a defective retroviral vector containing simian virus 40 (SV40) large T antigen and the neomycin resistance gene or by transfection with an SV40 plasmid defective in the origin of replication, provide useful tools for understanding the mechanisms contributing to the control of T-cell maturation. Because interepithelial, epithelial-macrophage, and lymphocyte-epithelial cell interactions are important for thymocyte differentiation, the distribution of integrin and nonintegrin adhesion receptors on these cells and on developing thymocytes in vivo and in vitro has been examined in detail. Our results indicate that the transformed human thymic epithelial cell strains express the common very late antigen (VLA)-beta 1 receptor and unique alpha chains VLA-2, VLA-3, and VLA-6. The cells are also positive for LFA-3 and ICAM-1 and weakly express beta 3, beta 4, and VNR alpha. They do not express the Leu-cellular adhesion molecules (CAM). This phenotypic profile on cultured thymic epithelium generally corresponds to the distribution of integrin and other receptor molecules on thymic epithelial cells in tissue sections. The majority of thymocytes also express the integrin VLA-beta 1 and -beta 2 chains as well as VLA-4, VLA-6, and LFA-1 alpha(L). Three-color flow cytometric analyses show differential levels of expression of these adhesion receptors on human thymocyte subsets. Taken together with the immunohistochemical localization of extracellular matrix molecules, these studies suggest that both the distribution of receptor-ligand pairs and the level of expression of adhesion molecules may influence T-cell development within the thymus.


Journal article


Experimental hematology

Publication Date





1101 - 1111


Medical Oncology, Laboratory, Imperial Cancer Research Fund, London, England.


Epithelium, Thymus Gland, Cell Line, Transformed, Epithelial Cells, Humans, Cell Adhesion Molecules, Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1, Lymphocyte Function-Associated Antigen-1, Integrins, Receptors, Very Late Antigen, Antigens, Polyomavirus Transforming, Ligands, Flow Cytometry, Cell Separation, Immunohistochemistry, Cell Differentiation, Phenotype, Child, Preschool, Infant