, Volume 101, Issue 5, pp 355-363

The ER-TR4 monoclonal antibody recognizes murine thymic epithelial cells (Type 1) and inhibits their capacity to interact with immature thymocytes: immuno-electron microscopic and functional studies

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Abstract

The thymic stroma is heterogeneous with regard to cellular morphology and cellular function. In this study, we employed the monoclonal antibody ER-TR4 to characterize stromal cells at the ultrastructural level. To identify the labelled cell type, we used two techniques: immunogold labelling on ultrathin frozen sections and immunoperoxidase staining on thick “vibratome” sections. ER-TR4 reacted with thymic Type 1 epithelial cells (according to our classification). A dense labelling appears in the cytoplasm of cortical cells using the two techniques. Immunogold labelling identified small cytoplasmic vesicles whereas the cytoplasm and the cell membrane seem to be labelled with the immunoperoxidase technique. ER-TR4 also identified isolated thymic nurse cells (TNC), and was observed in vitro to inhibit the capacity of some type 1 epithelial cells to establish interactions with immature thymocytes. This finding supports the hypothesis that the factor is involved in the formation of lymphoepithelial interactions within thymic nurse cells, and thus in the relations that immature thymocytes establish with the thymic microenvironment.