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Previously we described a monoclonal antibody (mAb) that reacted with a cell-surface antigen, immature thymocyte antigen-1 (IMT-1), which is expressed on thymocytes of late CD4- CD8- (double negative) to early CD4+ CD8+ (double positive) differentiation stages. In this study, we investigated the expression of IMT-1 on various cell lineages in thymus as well as in peripheral lymphoid organs. We found that IMT-1 is expressed on T-cell receptor (TCR)-betalo and TCR-deltalo thymocytes, but not on TCR-betahi, TCR-deltahi or natural killer (NK)1.1+ thymocytes, or on peripheral alpha beta or gamma delta T cells. We also investigated the kinetics of expression of IMT-1 during fetal thymocyte development and compared it with the expression of the pre-TCR complex, comprising CD3, pre-TCR-alpha (pTalpha) and TCR-beta. We found that expression of both was similar, starting at day 14.5 of gestation, peaking on day 16.5 and gradually decreasing thereafter. Furthermore, the expression of both IMT-1 and pTalpha was drastically reduced when DN thymocytes in recombination activating gene (RAG)-2-/- mice were challenged in vivo with anti-CD3 mAb. These results indicate that IMT-1 is expressed on not only immature thymocytes of alpha beta T-cell lineage but also on those of gamma delta T-cell lineage, and that the expression of IMT-1 and the pre-TCR complex is co-ordinately regulated during the alpha beta lineage thymocyte development.


J J Tong, H Kishi, T Nagata, A Muraguchi. Co-ordinate expression of the pre-T-cell receptor complex and a novel immature thymocyte-specific antigen, IMT-1, during thymocyte development. Immunology. 1999 Jan;96(1):48-56

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PMID: 10233677

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