The c-kit+ maturation pathway in mouse thymic T cell development: lineages and selection

Immunity. 1996 Aug;5(2):147-61. doi: 10.1016/s1074-7613(00)80491-4.


Positive selection of T cells begins with TCR alpha beta lo thymic progenitors. Here, we show that the most efficient TCRlo progenitors are c-kit+ with intermediate levels of CD4 and CD8 (DPint). Positive selection of DPint TCRlo c-kit+ cells results in TCRmed CD69+ c-kit+ transitional intermediates that show increased TCRV beta frequencies to selecting superantigen (SAg) that are committed to the CD4 or CD8 pathway. The cells on the c-kit+ maturation pathway maintain Bcl-2 expression. Most DPint c-kit+ progenitors fail positive selection, and become DPhi c-kit- cells that lose Bcl-2 expression. Some DPhi c-kit blast cells can be salvaged to produce mature single-positive (SP) cells. DPint c-kit+ maturation to SP cells can occur in <12 hr in vitro on thymic stromal monolayers.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD3 Complex / analysis
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology
  • Cell Division / immunology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / immunology
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Injections
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred CBA
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / biosynthesis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / biosynthesis*
  • Stromal Cells / cytology
  • Stromal Cells / immunology
  • Stromal Cells / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / cytology*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism*
  • Thymus Gland / cytology*
  • Thymus Gland / immunology
  • Thymus Gland / metabolism


  • CD3 Complex
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit