Launching the T-cell-lineage developmental programme

Nat Rev Immunol. 2008 Jan;8(1):9-21. doi: 10.1038/nri2232.


Multipotent blood progenitor cells enter the thymus and begin a protracted differentiation process in which they gradually acquire T-cell characteristics while shedding their legacy of developmental plasticity. Notch signalling and basic helix-loop-helix E-protein transcription factors collaborate repeatedly to trigger and sustain this process throughout the period leading up to T-cell lineage commitment. Nevertheless, the process is discontinuous with separately regulated steps that demand roles for additional collaborating factors. This Review discusses new evidence on the coordination of specification and commitment in the early T-cell pathway; effects of microenvironmental signals; the inheritance of stem-cell regulatory factors; and the ensemble of transcription factors that modulate the effects of Notch and E proteins, to distinguish individual stages and to polarize T-cell-lineage fate determination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology*
  • Cell Lineage / immunology*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / immunology
  • Humans
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology