Transdifferentiation of parathyroid cells into cervical thymi promotes atypical T-cell development

Jie Li, Zhijie Liu, Shiyun Xiao, Nancy R. Manley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The thoracic thymus is the primary vertebrate organ for T-cell generation. Accessory cervical thymi have also been identified in humans and mice, and shown in mice to be independent functional organs that support T-cell development. However, their origin and functional significance remain unclear. Here we show that cervical thymi in mice have following two origins: delayed differentiation of endodermal precursors and transdifferentiation of parathyroid-fated cells. Compared with thoracic thymus, parathyroid-origin cervical thymi (pCT) express low levels of the thymic epithelial cell-specific transcription factor FOXN1. Consequently, pCT form a distinct microenvironment that supports an atypical thymocyte development pathway, generating T cells with unconventional phenotypic characteristics. Our data demonstrate a transdifferentiation origin for a subset of cervical thymi, with specific functional consequences for T-cell development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2959
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Dec 17 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


Dive into the research topics of 'Transdifferentiation of parathyroid cells into cervical thymi promotes atypical T-cell development'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this