Molecular evidence for a thymus-independent partial T cell development in a FOXN1-/- athymic human fetus

Anna Fusco, Luigi Panico, Marisa Gorrese, Gabriella Bianchino, Maria V. Barone, Vitina Grieco, Laura Vitiello, Roberta D'Assante, Rosa Romano, Loredana Palamaro, Giulia Scalia, Luigi Del Vecchio, Claudio Pignata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The thymus is the primary organ able to support T cell ontogeny, abrogated in FOXN1-/- human athymia. Although evidence indicates that in animal models T lymphocytes may differentiate at extrathymic sites, whether this process is really thymus-independent has still to be clarified. In an athymic FOXN1-/- fetus, in which we previously described a total blockage of CD4+ and partial blockage of CD8+ cell development, we investigated whether intestine could play a role as extrathymic site of T-lymphopoiesis in humans. We document the presence of few extrathymically developed T lymphocytes and the presence in the intestine of CD3+ and CD8+, but not of CD4+ cells, a few of them exhibiting a CD45RA+ naïve phenotype. The expression of CD3eepTa, RAG1 and RAG2 transcripts in the intestine and TCR gene rearrangement was also documented, thus indicating that in humans the partial T cell ontogeny occurring at extrathymic sites is a thymusand FOXN1-independent process. Copyright:

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere81786
JournalPLoS One
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 9 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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