A population of early fetal thymocytes expressing Fc gamma RII/III contains precursors of T lymphocytes and natural killer cells

Cell. 1992 Apr 3;69(1):139-50. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(92)90125-v.


We have identified a dominant fetal thymocyte population at day 14.5 of gestation in the mouse that lacks CD4 and CD8 but expresses Fc gamma RII/III several days prior to acquisition of the T cell receptor (TCR) in vivo. If maintained in a thymic microenvironment, this population of CD4-CD8-TCR-Fc gamma RII/III+ thymocytes differentiates first into CD4+CD8+TCRlowFc gamma RII/III- thymocytes and subsequently CD4+CD8-TCRhighFc gamma RII/III- and CD4-CD8+TCRhighFc gamma RII/III- mature Ti alpha-beta lineage T cells. However, if removed from the thymus, the CD4-CD8-TCR-Fc gamma RII/III+ thymocyte population selectively generates functional natural killer (NK) cells in vivo as well as in vitro. These findings show that a cellular pool of Fc gamma RII/III+ precursors gives rise to T and NK lineages in a microenvironment-dependent manner. Moreover, they suggest a hitherto unrecognized role for Fc receptors on primitive T cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD / immunology*
  • Antigens, Differentiation / immunology*
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology
  • Cytotoxicity Tests, Immunologic
  • Fetus / immunology
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Killer Cells, Natural / cytology
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phenotype
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Receptors, Fc / immunology*
  • Receptors, IgG
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Thymus Gland / embryology
  • Thymus Gland / immunology


  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Differentiation
  • Receptors, Fc
  • Receptors, IgG