Timing of deletion of autoreactive V-beta-6+ cells and down-modulation of either CD4 or CD8 on phenotypically distinct CD4+8+ subsets of thymocytes expressing intermediate or high-levels of T-cell receptor
In this paper we describe a differentiation sequence amongst adult murine thymocytes which goes from CD4+8+3lo(low) to CD4+8+3int(intermediate) to CD4+8+3hi(high) and then to mature single positive CD3hi thymocytes. Phenotypic characterization of CD4+8+3int/hi cells for a number of other surface markers is consistent with them being in transition from CD4+8+3lo phenotype to mature phenotype. The same observation was made for sensitivity towards ionomycin-mediated apoptosis. In the thymus of Mls-1a mice, where autoreactive TCR-V beta 6+ cells are negatively selected, deletion of TCR-V beta 6+ cells was first detected in the CD4+8+3int subset, and was complete by the CD4+8+3hi stage, suggesting that up-regulation of the TCR/CD3 complex is required for deletion of Mls-1a autoreactive thymocytes. No sign of apoptosis was detected among any fresh thymocyte subsets suggesting that apoptotic cells are rapidly cleared from the thymus. The CD4+8+3int/CD4+8+3hi cells are therefore populations in transit from the typical cortical thymocytes to the mature T-cells.