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Thymic medullary regions are formed in neonatal mice as islet-like structures, which increase in size over time and eventually fuse a few weeks after birth into a continuous structure. The development of medullary thymic epithelial cells (TEC) is dependent on NF-κB associated signaling though other signaling pathways may contribute. Here, we demonstrate that Stat3-mediated signals determine medullary TEC cellularity, architectural organization and hence the size of the medulla. Deleting Stat3 expression selectively in thymic epithelia precludes the postnatal enlargement of the medulla retaining a neonatal architecture of small separate medullary islets. In contrast, loss of Stat3 expression in cortical TEC neither affects the cellularity or organization of the epithelia. Activation of Stat3 is mainly positioned downstream of EGF-R as its ablation in TEC phenocopies the loss of Stat3 expression in these cells. These results indicate that Stat3 meditated signal via EGF-R is required for the postnatal development of thymic medullary regions.

Original publication

DOI

10.1371/journal.pgen.1005776

Type

Journal article

Journal

PLoS Genet

Publication Date

01/2016

Volume

12

Keywords

Animals, Cell Differentiation, Embryonic Development, Epithelial Cells, ErbB Receptors, Flow Cytometry, Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental, Mice, STAT3 Transcription Factor, Signal Transduction, T-Lymphocytes, Thymocytes, Thymus Gland