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Intrathymic T-cell development is critically dependent on cortical and medullary thymic epithelial cells (TECs). Both epithelial subsets originate during early thymus organogenesis from progenitor cells that express the thymoproteasome subunit β5t, a typical feature of cortical TECs. Using in vivo lineage fate mapping, we demonstrate in mice that β5t(+) TEC progenitors give rise to the medullary TEC compartment early in life but significantly limit their contribution once the medulla has completely formed. Lineage-tracing studies at single cell resolution demonstrate for young mice that the postnatal medulla is expanded from individual β5t(+) cortical progenitors located at the cortico-medullary junction. These results therefore not only define a developmental window during which the expansion of medulla is efficiently enabled by progenitors resident in the thymic cortex, but also reveal the spatio-temporal dynamics that control the growth of the thymic medulla.

Original publication




Journal article


European journal of immunology

Publication Date





846 - 856


Department of Biomedicine, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland.


Thymus Gland, T-Lymphocytes, Epithelial Cells, Stem Cells, Animals, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Knockout, Mice, Doxycycline, Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex, Cell Differentiation, Cell Proliferation, Cell Lineage, Organogenesis