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Intravital Imaging of Thymopoiesis Reveals Dynamic Lympho-Epithelial Interactions

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Hess,  Isabell
Department of Developmental Immunology, Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics, Max Planck Society;

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Boehm,  Thomas
Department of Developmental Immunology, Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Hess, I., & Boehm, T. (2012). Intravital Imaging of Thymopoiesis Reveals Dynamic Lympho-Epithelial Interactions. Immunity, 36, 298-309. doi:10.1016/j.immuni.2011.12.016.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002B-8D14-1
Abstract
T cell development occurs in the thymus. The thymic microenvironment attracts hematopoietic progenitors, specifies them toward the T cell lineage, and orchestrates their differentiation and egress into the periphery. The anatomical location of the thymus and the intrauterine development of mouse embryos have so far precluded a direct visualization of the initial steps of thymopoiesis. Here, we describe transgenic zebrafish lines enabling the in vivo observation of thymopoiesis. The cell-autonomous proliferation of thymic epithelial cells, their morphological transformation into a reticular meshwork upon contact with hematopoietic cells, and the multiple migration routes of thymus-settling cells could be directly visualized. The unexpectedly dynamic thymus homing process is chemokine driven and independent of blood circulation. Thymocyte development appears to be completed in less than 4 days. Our work establishes a versatile model for the in vivo observation and manipulation of thymopoiesis.