Decision checkpoints in the thymus

Nat Immunol. 2010 Aug;11(8):666-73. doi: 10.1038/ni.1887. Epub 2010 Jul 20.


The development of T cells in the thymus involves several differentiation and proliferation events, during which hematopoietic precursors give rise to T cells ready to respond to antigen stimulation and undergo effector differentiation. This review addresses signaling and transcriptional checkpoints that control the intrathymic journey of T cell precursors. We focus on the divergence of alphabeta and gammadelta lineage cells and the elaboration of the alphabeta T cell repertoire, with special emphasis on the emergence of transcriptional programs that direct lineage decisions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology*
  • Cell Lineage
  • Gene Expression Regulation / immunology
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / genetics
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / immunology*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta / genetics
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta / immunology*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Thymus Gland / cytology
  • Thymus Gland / immunology*
  • Transcription, Genetic / genetics
  • Transcription, Genetic / immunology


  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta