Wilson Savino, Sérgio Ranto Dalmau, Vinícius Cotta Dealmeida, "Role of Extracellular Matrix-Mediated Interactions in Thymocyte Migration", Journal of Immunology Research, vol. 7, Article ID 060247, 13 pages, 2000. https://doi.org/10.1155/2000/60247
Role of Extracellular Matrix-Mediated Interactions in Thymocyte Migration
Cell adhesion, migration, differentiation and survival or death is amongst a large spectrum of biological responses that can be elicited by ligation of extracellular matrix components to their corresponding receptors. As regards the physiology of the thymus, cell migration is a crucial event in the general process of T cell differentiation. Studies on the intrathymic distribution of ECM components revealed that fibronectin, laminin and type IV collagen, are not restrictedly located at typical basement membrane sites, also forming a thick network in the medullary region of the thymic lobules, whereas very thin ECM fibers are found within the cortex. These ECM components are essentially produced by thymic microenvironmental cells, which also drive thymocyte differentiation. Signals triggered by ECM are conveyed into thymocytes or microenvironmental cells through specific membrane receptors, and most of them belong to the integrin type, such as the VLA-3, VLA-4, VLA-5 and VLA-6. In vitro studies revealed that adhesion of thymocytes to thymic microenvironmental cells is mediated by extracellular matrix. Such an adhesion is preferentially done by immature thymocytes. Importantly, ECM-mediated interactions also govern the entrance and exit of thymocytes in the lymphoepithelial complexes named thymic nurse cells. Lastly, pathological conditions, including infectious and autoimmune diseases, in which changes of ECM ligands and receptors are observed, course with alterations in thymocyte migration and death. In conclusion, the fact that ECM can modulate traffic, differentiation, death and survival of normal thymocytes adds clues for understanding how ECM-mediated interactions behave in the thymus, not only in normal, but also in pathological conditions.
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