Heterogeneity among DN1 prothymocytes reveals multiple progenitors with different capacities to generate T cell and non-T cell lineages

Immunity. 2004 Jun;20(6):735-45. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2004.05.004.


The nature of early T lineage progenitors in the thymus or bone marrow remains controversial. Here we assess lineage capacity and proliferative potential among five distinct components of the earliest intrathymic stage (DN1, CD25(-)44(+)). All of these express one or more hemato-lymphoid lineage markers. All can produce T lineage cells, but only two of them display kinetics of differentiation, proliferative capacity, and other traits consistent with being canonical T progenitors. The latter also appeared limited to producing cells of the T or NK lineages, while B lineage potential derived mainly from the other, less typical T progenitors. In addition to precisely defining canonical early progenitors in the thymus, this work reconciles conflicting results from numerous groups by showing that multiple progenitors with a DN1 phenotype home to the thymus and make T cells, but possess different proliferative potentials and lineage capacities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD / analysis
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Lineage*
  • Cell Movement
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / immunology
  • Stem Cells / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / cytology*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism
  • Thymus Gland / cytology*
  • Thymus Gland / immunology


  • Antigens, CD