A CD3- subset of CD4-8+ thymocytes: a rapidly cycling intermediate in the generation of CD4+8+ cells

Eur J Immunol. 1988 Apr;18(4):519-23. doi: 10.1002/eji.1830180405.


T lymphocytes with the surface phenotype CD4+8- and CD4-8+ are considered to be representative of functionally mature cells. We show here that adult murine thymus contains a subpopulation of CD4-8+ cells that differ from CD4-8+ cells found in the periphery in that they do not express the T cell receptor-associated CD3 molecular complex. Such CD3-4-8+ thymocytes are cortisone sensitive and rapidly cycling in situ. Furthermore, in contrast to mature T cells, most CD3-4-8+ thymocytes express low levels of CD5 and high levels of the B2A2 antigen. CD3-4-8+ thymocytes fail to respond to a variety of mitogenic stimuli in vitro but do give rise upon short-term culture to CD4+8+ cells. It is suggested that CD3-4-8+ thymocytes represent a transitional stage of thymus differentiation between the CD4-8- and CD4+8+ compartments.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte / analysis*
  • CD3 Complex
  • CD8 Antigens
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cortisone / pharmacology
  • Ethers / pharmacology
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Interleukin-2 / pharmacology
  • Ionomycin
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / analysis
  • T-Lymphocytes / classification
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate / pharmacology
  • Thymus Gland / cytology*
  • Thymus Gland / immunology


  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte
  • CD3 Complex
  • CD8 Antigens
  • Ethers
  • Interleukin-2
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell
  • Ionomycin
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate
  • Cortisone