CCR6 supports migration and differentiation of a subset of DN1 early thymocyte progenitors but is not required for thymic nTreg development
Bunting, MD and Comerford, I and Kara, EE and Korner, H and McColl, SR, CCR6 supports migration and differentiation of a subset of DN1 early thymocyte progenitors but is not required for thymic nTreg development, Immunology and Cell Biology, 92 pp. 489-498. ISSN 0818-9641 (2014) [Refereed Article]
T-cell selection and development occurs as precursor cells journey through the thymus and interact with stromal cells residing in distinct microenvironments. Although the chemokines CCL19, CCL21, CCL25 and CXCL12 are known to have major roles in intrathymic migration of thymocytes and thymocyte precursors, the significance of other chemokines such as CCL20, which is also expressed in the thymus, is unknown. This is of particular interest given that the thymus is the location of development of the natural regulatory T-cell (nTreg) population and that the CCL20 receptor CCR6 has an important role in peripheral tolerance via control of Treg cell migration. However, whether the CCL20/CCR6 axis has a role in the formation or migration of nTregs in the thymus is unknown. In this study, we addressed this by analyzing expression of CCR6/CCL20 within the thymus and assessing their role in thymocyte development using Ccr6-/- mice. CCL20 is predominately expressed in the thymic medulla and CCR6 expression is restricted to nTregs and a subset of early thymocyte progenitor double-negative 1 (DN1) cells (CD4-CD8-CD25-CD44+CD117+). Ex vivo chemotaxis assays indicated that these two subsets were apparently the sole subsets of thymocytes responsive to CCL20. The data indicate that nTreg frequencies and localization are unperturbed by deletion of Ccr6. However, in Ccr6-/- thymi, reduced frequencies of DN2 and DN3 cells, the thymocyte progenitor subsets that follow the DN1 stage, were apparent. Together, these data indicate that CCR6 has a supplementary role in coordination of early thymocyte precursor migration events important for normal subsequent thymocyte precursor development, but is not required for normal nTreg development.Immunology and Cell Biology advance online publication, 18 March 2014; doi:10.1038/icb.2014.14.