Adult Thymic Medullary Epithelium Is Maintained and Regenerated by Lineage-Restricted Cells Rather Than Bipotent Progenitors.
Ohigashi I., Zuklys S., Sakata M., Mayer CE., Hamazaki Y., Minato N., Hollander GA., Takahama Y.
Medullary thymic epithelial cells (mTECs) play an essential role in establishing self-tolerance in T cells. mTECs originate from bipotent TEC progenitors that generate both mTECs and cortical TECs (cTECs), although mTEC-restricted progenitors also have been reported. Here, we report in vivo fate-mapping analysis of cells that transcribe β5t, a cTEC trait expressed in bipotent progenitors, during a given period in mice. We show that, in adult mice, most mTECs are derived from progenitors that transcribe β5t during embryogenesis and the neonatal period up to 1 week of age. The contribution of adult β5t(+) progenitors was minor even during injury-triggered regeneration. Our results further demonstrate that adult mTEC-restricted progenitors are derived from perinatal β5t(+) progenitors. These results indicate that the adult thymic medullary epithelium is maintained and regenerated by mTEC-lineage cells that pass beyond the bipotent stage during early ontogeny.