Yu VW, Saez B, Cook C, Lotinun S, Pardo-Saganta A, Wang YH, Lymperi S, Ferraro F, Raaijmakers MH, Wu JY, Zhou L, Rajagopal J, Kronenberg HM, Baron R, Scadden DT.
Production of the cells that ultimately populate the thymus to generate α/β T cells has been controversial, and their molecular drivers remain undefined. Here, we report that specific deletion of bone-producing osteocalcin (Ocn)-expressing cells in vivo markedly reduces T-competent progenitors and thymus-homing receptor expression among bone marrow hematopoietic cells. Decreased intrathymic T cell precursors and decreased generation of mature T cells occurred despite normal thymic function. The Notch ligand DLL4 is abundantly expressed on bone marrow Ocn(+) cells, and selective depletion of DLL4 from these cells recapitulated the thymopoietic abnormality. These data indicate that specific mesenchymal cells in bone marrow provide key molecular drivers enforcing thymus-seeding progenitor generation and thereby directly link skeletal biology to the production of T cell-based adaptive immunity.
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