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Critical Reviews™ in Immunology
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ISSN Imprimer: 1040-8401
ISSN En ligne: 2162-6472

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Critical Reviews™ in Immunology

DOI: 10.1615/CritRevImmunol.v15.i3-4.20
pages 215-233

Expression and Function of Fc Receptors in the Thymus

Georges Leclercq
Department of Clinical Chemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, University of Ghent, University Hospital, Blok A, De Pintelaan 185, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium
Jean Plum
Department of Clinical Chemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, University of Ghent, University Hospital, Blok A, De Pintelaan 185, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium


In this review, the expression and function of Fc receptors (FcRs) in the thymus is discussed. In the murine thymus, FcγRII and FcγRIII are expressed on early thymocyte precursors, which can differentiate in both T and NK cells. TCR αβ thymocytes that are differentiating along the CD4-CD8 pathway do not express FcγRs any longer. Mature CD4-CD8 double negative TCR αβ and TCR Vγ3 cells, however, constitutively express FcγRII/III. The generation of gene-deficient mice has shown that neither FcγRs nor FcεRII are indispensable for murine thymus-dependent T cell development, whereas normal development of thymus-independent peripheral T cells is dependent on the presence of the FcRγ chain. In the human thymus, a low number of CD3-CD4-CD8 triple negative cells expresses FcγRIII, but these cells are mainly NK cells. FcεRII is expressed on human thymic epithelial cells. Although the unaltered thymic development of T cells in FcR-deficient mice argues against a fundamental role of FcRs in this process, recent demonstration of FcR ligands of non-immunoglobulin nature in the thymus indicates that the interaction between FcRs and their ligands in the thymus might influence T cell development.

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