Thymic Ontogeny and the T-Cell Receptor Genes

  • Nicolette Caccia
  • Rosanne Spolski
  • Tak W. Mak


The mammalian immune system is composed of a number of well-regulated cells and their products, which provide an effective defense against infection by viruses, bacteria, and parasites. This system can be broadly divided into two interacting components: nonspecific immunity, which is effected by cells such as macrophages and natural killer cells, and specific immunity, which provides the fine tuning and is mediated by B and T lymphocytes. Specific immunity can be further divided into humoral and cell-mediated responses. The humoral response is mediated by B lymphocytes, which secrete immunoglobulins, antigen-specific molecules involved in a number of immune reactions leading to the elimination of antigen (Davies and Metzger, 1983; Honjo, 1983). Regulation of the humoral response and mediation of the cellular response is provided by T lymphocytes, which, unlike B cells, respond exclusively to foreign antigens on the surface of cells, and only recognize these antigens in the context of self class I or class II products encoded by the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). Class I products are found on all cells within an organism, while class II MHC products are expressed only on lymphoid cells and macrophages, and the inability of T cells to respond to antigen except in the context of these products is known as MHC restriction (Zinkernagel and Doherty, 1974; Katz et al., 1973; Rosenthal and Shevach, 1973).


Major Histocompatibility Complex Athymic Mouse Major Histocompatibility Complex Restriction Double Negative Cell Thymic Leukemia 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicolette Caccia
    • 1
  • Rosanne Spolski
    • 1
  • Tak W. Mak
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Medicine and Medical Biophysics, Ontario Cancer InstituteUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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