Robertson P, Means TK, Luster AD, Scadden DT. 2006. CXCR4 and CCR5 mediate homing of primitive bone marrow-derived hematopoietic cells to the postnatal thymus. Experimental hematology. 34(3):308-19. Pubmed: 16543065


Factors governing the entry of cells into the postnatal thymus are poorly understood. We aimed to define molecular mechanisms mediating the homing of bone marrow cells to the thymus using a sublethally irradiated in vivo murine model. Entry of unfractionated and lineage-depleted bone marrow cells to the thymus, but not bone marrow, was a Galphai-mediated phenomenon. Lineage-depleted cells that had homed to the thymus expressed abundant CXCR4 and CCR5 mRNA, alone of 17 chemokine receptors evaluated by QPCR. Thymic-homed cells were distinct from cells that had homed to bone marrow in expression of CXCR4 and CCR5 by mRNA quantification and cell-surface expression of protein. Abrogation of CXCR4 and CCR5 function by genetic, antibody, or pharmacologic means impaired homing of lineage-depleted cells to the thymus, although not in a synergistic manner, implying interdependency of these receptors in the homing process. Competitive repopulation experiments demonstrated that inhibiting CXCR4-mediated homing adversely affected the double-negative cell pool at 2 weeks, suggesting that cells with prothymocytic activity may in part home via CXCR4. Overall, our data demonstrate differential homing mechanisms governing entry of unfractionated and lineage-depleted cells to irradiated bone marrow or thymus, with thymic homing of immature cells being pertussis-sensitive and mediated by the chemokine receptors CXCR4 and CCR5.

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David Scadden’s laboratory is dedicated to discovering the principles governing blood cell production, with the ultimate goal of guiding the development of therapies for blood disorders and cancer.

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