Notch ligands potentiate IL-7-driven proliferation and survival of human thymocyte precursors

Maymouna Magri, Ahmad Yatim, Clarisse Benne, Michèle Balbo, Adeline Henry, Alain Serraf, Seiji Sakano, Louis Gazzolo, Yves Lévy, Jean Daniel Lelièvre*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Notch and IL-7 are both well-characterized factors involved in T-cell development. In contrast to the mouse model, their precise requirements in the differentiation and/or proliferation of various stages of human thymic development have not been fully explored. Here, we demonstrate that IL-7 alone is sufficient to induce the differentiation of ex vivo purified CD34+ triple negative (TN) surface (s) CD3- CD4-CD8- (CD3-CD4-CD8-), CD4 immature single positive (ISP) (sCD3-CD4+CD8-) and double positive (DP) (sCD3-CD4+ CD8+) human thymic precursors to mature DP expressing sCD3 (sCD3+CD4+CD8+). We show that activation of Notch signaling by its ligands Delta-1 or Delta-4 potentiates IL-7-driven proliferation and survival of CD34+ TN and to a lesser extent of CD4+ ISP precursors. This effect of Notch is related to a sustained induction of IL-7 receptor α chain expression on thymocytes through a decreased methylation of its gene promoter. Thus, we show here that proliferation and differentiation of T-cell precursors are differentially modulated by IL-7 depending on the presence or absence of external signals. These results may have important implications for the clinical use of this cytokine as a strategy aimed at improving immune restoration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1231-1240
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Delta 1
  • Delta 4
  • IL-7
  • IL-7 receptor
  • Notch


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