Functions of notch signaling in the immune system: consensus and controversies

Annu Rev Immunol. 2010;28:343-65. doi: 10.1146/annurev.immunol.021908.132719.


Mammalian genomes encode up to four Notch receptors (Notch1-4) and five Notch ligands of the DSL (Delta/Serrate/Lag-2) family, and Notch signaling controls a wide spectrum of developmental processes. Intrathymic Notch1 signaling is essential for several distinct aspects of early T cell development. Notch signaling has also been implicated as a key regulator of peripheral T cell activation and effector cell differentiation, but its functions in these processes remain poorly understood. Notch signaling is dispensable for B cell development in the bone marrow, but it is required to generate the innate-like marginal zone B cell subset in the spleen and may also regulate plasma cell functions. Modification of Notch receptors by fringe glycosyltransferases influences many Notch-dependent aspects of hematopoiesis by altering Notch responsiveness to Delta-like versus Jagged DSL ligands. Here we review recent advances in general aspects of Notch signaling, as well as studies probing Notch functions in these immunological processes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Humans
  • Immune System / cytology
  • Immune System / immunology*
  • Immune System / metabolism*
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Polysaccharides / immunology
  • Receptors, Notch / immunology*
  • Receptors, Notch / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Polysaccharides
  • Receptors, Notch