We show here that cell sorter purified JORO 75+ lymphocyte progenitors from fetal liver or bone marrow of adult mice give rise in vitro to CD4+8- T cell receptor (TCR)/CD3- early thymocytes and CD4+8- TCR/CD3+ thymocyte subsets after coculture with the EH6 subcapsular thymic epithelial cell line, recombinant interleukin 7 (rIL-7) and F (supernatants from the FLS4.1 fetal liver stromal cell line). We find that in cultures that had additionally received rIL-2, CD4-8+ TCR/CD3+ cells were also generated. The results strongly suggest that fetal liver and marrow JORO 75+ lymphocyte progenitors are precursors to the early CD4+8- TCR/CD3- intrathymic population previously identified in the adult mouse. The EH6 subcapsular thymic epithelial cell line should facilitate the study of the molecular events responsible for very early stages of T cell development including T lymphocyte-lineage commitment.

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