Joint research paper on the role of TNFR2 and mTNF in T-cell development published in Nature Immunology

January 27, 2023

Intrathymic dendritic cell-biased precursors promote human T cell lineage specification through IRF8-driven transmembrane TNF

 Kai Ling Liang, Juliette Roels, Marieke Lavaert, Tom Putteman, Lena Boehme, Laurentijn Tilleman, Imke Velghe, Valentina Pegoretti, Inge Van de Walle, Stephanie Sontag, Jolien Vandewalle, Bart Vandekerckhove, Georges Leclercq, Pieter Van Vlierberghe, Claude Libert, Filip Van Nieuwerburgh, Roman Fischer , Roland E Kontermann, Klaus Pfizenmaier, Gina Doody, Martin Zenke , Tom Taghon


The cross-talk between thymocytes and thymic stromal cells is fundamental for T cell development. In humans, intrathymic development of dendritic cells (DCs) is evident but its physiological significance is unknown. Here we showed that DC-biased precursors depended on the expression of the transcription factor IRF8 to express the membrane-bound precursor form of the cytokine TNF (tmTNF) to promote differentiation of thymus seeding hematopoietic progenitors into T-lineage specified precursors through activation of the TNF receptor (TNFR)-2 instead of TNFR1. In vitro recapitulation of TNFR2 signaling by providing low-density tmTNF or a selective TNFR2 agonist enhanced the generation of human T cell precursors. Our study shows that, in addition to mediating thymocyte selection and maturation, DCs function as hematopoietic stromal support for the early stages of human T cell development and provide proof of concept that selective targeting of TNFR2 can enhance the in vitro generation of T cell precursors for clinical application.



DOI: 10.1038/s41590-022-01417-6

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