We have established a new clonal assay system that can evenly support the development of T and natural killer (NK) cells. With this system, we show that all T cell progenitors in the earliest CD44+CD25-FcγRII/III- fetal thynms (FT) cell population retain NK potential, and that the NK lineage- committed progenitors (p-NK) also exist in this population. T cell lineage- committed progenitors (p-T), which are unable to generate NK cells, first appear at the CD44+CD25FcγRII/III+ stage in day 12 FT. The proportion of p-T markedly increases during the transition from the CD44+CD25- stage to the CD44+CD25+ stage in day 14 FT. On the other hand, p-NK preferentially increase in number at the CD44+CD25- stage between days 12 and 14 of gestation. The production of p-NK continues up to the CD44+CD25+ stage, but ceases before the rearrangement oft cell receptor β chain genes. It was further shown that the CD44+CD25-CD122+ population of day 14 FT exclusively contains p-NK. These results indicate that the earliest T cell progenitor migrating into the FT is T/NK bipotent, and strongly suggest that the bipotent progenitor continuously produces p-NK and p-T until the CD44+CD25+ stage.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy