Tiffany Hangse Rose Hills
Development of a Human Thymic Epithelial Co-Culture to Enhance T Cell Maturation
Robust conventional T cell development in vitro remains challenging without the thymic microenvironment. Within this organ are two subsets of highly specialized thymic epithelial cells: cTECs and mTECs. Both arise from a common bipotent progenitor whose differentiation is regulated by the forkhead box transcription factor, FOXN1. FOXN1 also mediates TEC-thymocyte crosstalk and is believed to have postnatal roles in maintaining thymus integrity. Therefore, my research project will explore in vitro TEC differentiation and, subsequently, T cell maturation. I plan to develop a human TEC line overexpressing FOXN1 and then co-culture it with iPS-derived T cell progenitors. I hope that this system may improve in vitro T cell development for adoptive cell therapies. Additionally, the co-culture may have applications in three-dimensional artificial thymic organoids (ATOs) for further enhancing T cell development and understanding thymic organogenesis.