For the first time, embryonic stem cells were "taught" how to become T lymphocytes without the need for an embryo or a thymus. In the April issue of Nature Immunology, Juan-Carlos Zúñiga-Pflücker and colleagues from Toronto generated fully functional T cells from mouse embryonic stem cells using defined growth conditions for differentiating the embryonic stem cells. This method could aid efforts to grow large quantities of T cells for immunotherapeutics.
Embryonic stem cells are totipotent, meaning that they have the potential to become any cell found in the body. However, a specific sequence of cues is needed to specify the type of cell into which they eventually develop. Zúñiga-Pflücker identified the sequence that gives rise to T lymphocytes. Mouse embryonic stem cells were cultured on a layer of "support" cells that express a membrane molecule called Delta-like ligand 1 (DL1), in addition to other nutrients required for survival of the young T cells. DL1 interacts with a protein called Notch on the surface of developing T lineage cells and sends signals that reinforce development to fully fledged T cells. When introduced into a T cell-deficient mouse, these cells were able to confer immune responses to virus infection, suggesting that they are fully functional. This finding may bring reconstitution of T cell functions lost in cancer or AIDS infection one step closer.
Juan Carlos Zúñiga-Pflücker
University of Toronto
Tel: +1 416 480 6112
Additional contact for comment on paper:
Ellen V. Rothenberg
Tel: +1 626 395 4992
Also available online.
(C) Nature Immunology press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza
Bookmark and Share this page (what is this?)
Social bookmarking allows users to save and categorise a personal collection of bookmarks and share them with others. This is different to using your own browser bookmarks which are available using the menus within your web browser.
Use the links below to share this article on the social bookmarking site of your choice.
Read more about social bookmarking at Wikipedia - Social Bookmarking