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Visualizing thymocyte motility using 2-photon microscopy

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Our view of a thymocyte based on its behavior in tissue culture and appearance in fixed tissue sections was of a round sessile cell. Its travel through the thymus might occur slowly, perhaps even passively, leaving it in contact with the support cells that happened to be in its immediate environment. However, when we got our first look at the behavior of thymocytes in a 3D cellular stromal cell environment, that picture changed dramatically. Instead we found that thymocytes are actively crawling, allowing them to explore their environment over relatively long distances and interact with peptide-major histocompatibility complex (pMHC)-bearing thymic stromal cells in both dynamic and stable modes. In this review, we discuss the implications of thymocyte motility for T-cell repertoire selection and for the mechanisms that determine the spatial organization of thymocyte subsets within the thymus.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA.

Publication date: October 1, 2003

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