Epidermal growth factor promotes a neural phenotype in thymic epithelial cells and enhances neuropoietic cytokine expression

Isabella Screpanti, Susanna Scarpa, Daniela Meco, Diana Bellavia, Liborio Stuppia, Luigi Frati, Andrea Modesti, Alberto Gulino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Neural crest-derived cells populate the thymus, and their coexistence with epithelial cells is required for proper organ development and T cell education function. We show here that epidermal growth factor (EGF), a major epithelial cell growth-enhancing agent, has a morphogenetic action to promote the expression of a neuronal phenotype (e.g., neurofilament expression) in cultured thymic epithelial cells that are characterized by a cytokeratin- positive epithelial cell background. The proliferation of such neurodifferentiated cells is also enhanced by EGF. Furthermore, the growth factor enhances cells that express the genes encoding the preprotachykinin A- generated neuropeptides and the bipotential neuropoietic and lymphopoietic cytokines ciliary neurotrophic factor and interleukin-6. These cytokines also enhance the neuronal phenotype of thymic epithelial cells. Therefore, EGF appears to be a composite autocrine/paracrine neuromodulator in thymic stroma. This suggests that EGF may regulate thymus-dependent immune functions by promoting neuronal gene expression in neural crest-derived cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-192
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cell Biology
Volume130
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology

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    Screpanti, I., Scarpa, S., Meco, D., Bellavia, D., Stuppia, L., Frati, L., Modesti, A., & Gulino, A. (1995). Epidermal growth factor promotes a neural phenotype in thymic epithelial cells and enhances neuropoietic cytokine expression. Journal of Cell Biology, 130(1), 183-192. https://doi.org/10.1083/jcb.130.1.183