Thymus seeding by T-lymphoid progenitor cells is a prerequisite for T-cell development. However, molecules guiding thymus colonization and their roles before and after thymus vascularization are unclear. Here we show that mice doubly deficient for chemokine receptors CCR7 and CCR9 were defective specifically in fetal thymus colonization before, but not after, thymus vascularization. The defective prevascular fetal thymus colonization was followed by selective loss of the first wave of T-cell development generating epidermal Vγ3+ γδ T cells. Unexpectedly, CCL21, a CCR7 ligand, was expressed not by Foxn1-dependent thymic primordium but by Gcm2-dependent parathyroid primordium, whereas CCL25, a CCR9 ligand, was predominantly expressed by Foxn1-dependent thymic primordium, revealing the role of the adjacent parathyroid in guiding fetal thymus colonization. These results indicate coordination between Gcm2-dependent parathyroid and Foxn1-dependent thymic primordia in establishing CCL21/CCR7- and CCL25/CCR9-mediated chemokine guidance essential for prevascular fetal thymus colonization.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology