Self-tolerance: Interactions between thymic stroma and dendritic cells
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The process by which the thymus maintains self-tolerance to peripheral tissue antigens has been a long-term puzzle for immunologists. Significant progress was made with the discovery of the AIRE locus and the associated ectopic expression of tissue-specific antigens by medullary thymic epithelial cells (mTEC) as a mechanism to delete self-reactive T cells and limit auto-immunity. Using our well-established model with ovalbumin (OVA) specific CD4 and CD8 T cells, we have previously defined a role for Aire in the transfer of tissue specific antigens from mTEC to dendritic cells for induction of thymic tolerance (Hubert FX et al. Blood 2011; 118(9): 2462-2472). In current work we are examining new cell signalling candidates to dissect the interactions between mTECs and dendritic cells in the thymus.
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