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We recently described that T cell specification in mice deficient in the Hedgehog (Hh) receptor Patched (Ptch) is blocked at the level of the common lymphoid progenitor in the bone marrow (BM). Adoptive transfer of wild-type BM in Ptch-deficient mice provides evidence that T cell development strictly depends on Ptch expression in the nonhematopoietic compartment. Transplantation experiments using BM deficient in the glucocorticoid receptor exclude any involvement of the stress hormone corticosterone in our model. Using cell-type-specific knockout mice, we show that T cell development is independent of T cell-intrinsic Ptch expression. Furthermore, Ptch expression by the thymus stroma is dispensable, as revealed by fetal thymus organ culture and thymus transplantation. In contrast, analysis of the earliest thymic progenitors in Ptch-deficient mice indicated that Ptch is required for the development or supply of thymic homing progenitors that give rise to earliest thymic progenitors. Collectively, our findings identified Ptch as an exclusive T cell-extrinsic factor necessary for proper development of T cells at their prethymic stage. This observation may be important for current considerations using Hh inhibitors upstream of Ptch in diseases accompanied by aberrant Hh signaling.


Anja Uhmann, Jens van den Brandt, Kai Dittmann, Ina Hess, Ralf Dressel, Claudia Binder, Fred Lühder, Hans Christiansen, Martin Fassnacht, Avinash Bhandoola, Jürgen Wienands, Holger M Reichardt, Heidi Hahn. T cell development critically depends on prethymic stromal patched expression. Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950). 2011 Mar 15;186(6):3383-91

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PMID: 21317383

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