Expression of tissue-restricted antigens (TRAs) in thymic epithelial cells (TECs) ensures negative selection of highly self-reactive T cells to establish central tolerance. Whether some of these TRAs could exert their canonical biological functions to shape thymic environment to regulate T cell development is unclear. Analyses of publicly available databases have revealed expression of transcripts at various levels of many cytokines and cytokine receptors such as IL-15, IL-15Rα, IL-13, and IL-23a in both human and mouse TECs. Ablation of either IL-15 or IL-15Rα in TECs selectively impairs type 1 innate like T cell, such as iNKT1 and γδT1 cell, development in the thymus, indicating that TECs not only serve as an important source of IL-15 but also trans-present IL-15 to ensure type 1 innate like T cell development. Because type 1 innate like T cells are proinflammatory, our data suggest the possibility that TEC may intrinsically control thymic inflammatory innate like T cells to influence thymic environment.
Keywords: IL-15; IL-15Rα; iNKT cells; thymic epithelial cells; type 1 innate like T cells; γδT cells.
Copyright © 2021 Tao, Li, Liao, Schluns, Luckhart, Sleasman and Zhong.