Visualization and identification of IL-7 producing cells in reporter mice

PLoS One. 2009 Nov 10;4(11):e7637. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007637.


Interleukin-7 (IL-7) is required for lymphocyte development and homeostasis although the actual sites of IL-7 production have never been clearly identified. We produced a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) transgenic mouse expressing ECFP in the Il7 locus. The construct lacked a signal peptide and ECFP (enhanced cyan fluorescent protein) accumulated inside IL-7-producing stromal cells in thoracic thymus, cervical thymus and bone marrow. In thymus, an extensive reticular network of IL-7-containing processes extended from cortical and medullary epithelial cells, closely contacting thymocytes. Central memory CD8 T cells, which require IL-7 and home to bone marrow, physically associated with IL-7-producing cells as we demonstrate by intravital imaging.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow / metabolism
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • Cell Separation
  • Chromosomes, Artificial, Bacterial
  • Female
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Interleukin-7 / genetics*
  • Interleukin-7 / metabolism
  • Lymphocytes / cytology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Recombination, Genetic
  • Thymus Gland / metabolism


  • Cyan Fluorescent Protein
  • Interleukin-7
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins