Functional and phenotypic delineation of two subsets of CD4 single positive cells in the thymus

Janko Nikollć-zugić, Michael J. Bevan

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56 Scopus citations


CD4 single positive thymocytes are the traction of mature thymocytes that contains precursors of MHC class II restricted T cells. In the experiments presented here, we demonstrate phenotyplc and functional heterogeneity amongst CD4 single positive thymocytes from adult mice. Approximately 70% of these cells adhere to antl-CD8 antibody-coated dishes and therefore express low levels of CD8 molecules. They are referred to here as CD8loCD4hl. The remaining 30% are CD8-CD4hl. The CD8loCD4hl subset also expresses 3-fold higher surface levels of heat-stable antigen (HSA) than CD8-CD4hl thymocytes. Both CD4hl subsets express high levels of the αβTCR/CD3 complex on the cell surface, and can proliferate in response to ailogeneic cells expressing MHC class II differences but not to cells expressing only class I disparate molecules. However, CD8-CD4hl thymocytes are self-sufficient in such a proliferative response, whereas CD8loCD4hl thymocytes require exogenous IL-2 for optimal proliferation. The results suggest that CD8loCD4hl thymocytes are not completely mature. Their phenotype suggests that they might be descendants from CD8loCD4hl double positive thymocytes, and that they have begun to down-regulate gradually CD8 and HSA molecules. The relationship between the two CD4hl single positive subsets is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-141
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1990


  • CD8
  • T cell receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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