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 journalArticle

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

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
Volume4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 17 2013

    Fingerprint

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

Cite this