Differential expression of tissue-restricted antigens among mTEC is associated with distinct autoreactive T cell fates
Medullary thymic epithelial cells (mTEC) contribute to the development of T cell tolerance by expressing and presenting tissue-restricted antigens (TRA), so that developing T cells can assess the self-reactivity of their antigen receptors prior to leaving the thymus. mTEC are a heterogeneous population of cells that differentially express TRA. Whether mTEC subsets induce distinct autoreactive T cell fates remains unclear. Here, we establish bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC)-transgenic mouse
... C)-transgenic mouse lines with biased mTEClo or mTEChi expression of model antigens. The transgenic lines support negative selection of antigen-specific thymocytes depending on antigen dose. However, model antigen expression predominantly by mTEClo supports TCRαβ+ CD8αα intraepithelial lymphocyte development; meanwhile, mTEChi-restricted expression preferentially induces Treg differentiation of antigen-specific cells in these models to impact control of infectious agents and tumor growth. In summary, our data suggest that mTEC subsets may have a function in directing distinct mechanisms of T cell tolerance.