Phenotypic characterization of CD3-7+ cells in developing human intestine and an analysis of their ability to differentiate into T cells.

U Gunther, J Holloway, J Gordon, A Knight, V Chance, N Hanley, D Wilson, R French, J Spencer, H Steer, G Anderson, T MacDonald

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    We have identified a large population of CD3(-)7(+) cells in human fetal gut. Three- and four-color flow cytometry revealed a distinct surface Ag profile on this population; the majority were negative for CD4 and CD8, whereas most of the remainder expressed the CD8alphaalpha homodimer. In contrast about half of CD3(+) cells expressed CD4 and half expressed CD8alpha. A large proportion of CD3(-)7(+) cells expressed CD56, CD94, and CD161, and whereas CD3(+) T cells also expressed CD161, they only rarely expressed CD56 or CD94. Further studies were conducted to determine whether the CD3(-)7(+) cells have the potential to differentiate into CD3(+) cells. About half of CD3(-)7(+) cells contain intracellular CD3epsilon. Rearranged TCR gamma-chains were detected in highly purified CD3(-)7(+) cells as an early molecular sign of T cell commitment, and the pattern of rearrangement with V regions spliced to the most 5' Jgamma segment is reminiscent of early thymocyte differentiation. In reaggregate thymic organ cultures, CD3(-)7(+) cells also gave rise to CD3(+) T cells. Thus, we demonstrate that the CD3(-)7(+) cells present in the human fetal gut display a distinct phenotype and are able to develop into CD3(+) T cells.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJ Immunol
    Volume174( 9)
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2005


    • Adult
    • immunology: Aging
    • biosynthesis: Antigens, CD3
    • biosynthesis: Antigens, CD7
    • immunology: Cell Aging
    • immunology: Cell Differentiation
    • immunology: Cell Membrane
    • cytology: Colon
    • Fetus
    • Gene Rearrangement, gamma-Chain T-Cell Antigen Receptor
    • Humans
    • cytology: Ileum
    • Immunophenotyping
    • cytology: Intestinal Mucosa
    • immunology: Intracellular Fluid
    • immunology: Killer Cells, Natural
    • Organ Culture Techniques
    • biosynthesis: Receptors, Immunologic
    • cytology: T-Lymphocyte Subsets
    • cytology: Thymus Gland


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