Nature communications 2018 03 289(1) 1262 doi 10.1038/s41467-018-03619-9
Medullary thymic epithelial cells (mTEC) purge the T cell repertoire of autoreactive thymocytes. Although dendritic cells (DC) reinforce this process by transporting innocuous peripheral self-antigens, the mechanisms that control their thymic entry remain unclear. Here we show that mTEC-CD4thymocyte crosstalk regulates the thymus homing of SHPS-1conventional DCs (cDC), plasmacytoid DCs (pDC) and macrophages. This homing process is controlled by lymphotoxin α (LTα), which negatively regulates CCL2, CCL8 and CCL12 chemokines in mTECs. Consequently, Ltα-deficient mice have increased expression of these chemokines that correlates with augmented classical NF-κB subunits and increased thymic recruitment of cDCs, pDCs and macrophages. This enhanced migration depends mainly on the chemokine receptor CCR2, and increases thymic clonal deletion. Altogether, this study identifies a fine-tuning mechanism of T cell repertoire selection and paves the way for therapeutic interventions to treat autoimmune disorders.