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Over-expression of human or mouse CD3-epsilon transgenes profoundly disturbs T lymphocyte and natural killer (NK) cell development. One of these transgenic strains, termed tgepsilon26, displays a very early block in T lymphocyte and NK cell development. We showed previously that the absence of early thymocyte progenitors results in an abnormal thymic microenvironment. Due to this thymic defect, T cell development could not be restored by bone marrow (BM) transplantation in adult tgepsilon26 mice but could in fetal tgepsilon26 mice. Here we examine the effect of this abnormal thymic environment on NK cell development. We demonstrate that NK cell maturation in tgepsilon26 mice was reconstituted by BM derived from completely T cell-deficient mice, i.e. RAG-2(-/-) and TCRbeta x delta-/-, but not from wild-type mice. Moreover, tgepsilon26 mice transplanted with BM from partially T cell-deficient mice, i.e. TCRalpha-/-, TCRbeta-/- and TCRdelta-/- mice, did not reconstitute their NK cell compartment. We conclude from these studies that the thymic environment is not required for NK cell development, but that aberrantly educated alphabeta or gammadelta T lymphocytes can influence NK cell ontogeny. Furthermore, high serum levels of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) were detected in the vast majority of tgepsilon26 mice transplanted with BM cells derived from partially T cell-deficient mice, but never from tgepsilon26 mice transplanted with BM cells derived from completely T cell-deficient mice. The high levels of TNF may play an important role in the observed inhibition of NK cell development, since in vivo treatment with an anti-TNF antibody restored NK cell development.

Original publication




Journal article


Int Immunol

Publication Date





939 - 949


Animals, B-Lymphocytes, Bone Marrow Transplantation, Cell Differentiation, Killer Cells, Natural, Mice, Mice, Transgenic, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta, T-Lymphocyte Subsets, Thymus Gland, Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha