The development of T cell tolerance in the thymus requires the presentation of host proteins by multiple antigen-presenting cell (APC) types. However, the importance of transferring host antigens from transcription factor AIRE-dependent medullary thymic epithelial cells (mTECs) to bone marrow (BM) APCs is unknown. We report that antigen was primarily transferred from mTECs to CD8α+ dendritic cells (DCs) and showed that CD36, a scavenger receptor selectively expressed on CD8α+ DCs, mediated the transfer of cell-surface, but not cytoplasmic, antigens. The absence of CD8α+ DCs or CD36 altered thymic T cell selection, as evidenced by TCR repertoire analysis and the loss of allo-tolerance in murine allogeneic BM transplantation (allo-BMT) studies. Decreases in these DCs and CD36 expression in peripheral blood of human allo-BMT patients correlated with graft-versus-host disease. Our findings suggest that CD36 facilitates transfer of mTEC-derived cell-surface antigen on CD8α+ DCs to promote tolerance to host antigens during homeostasis and allo-BMT. How cooperative antigen presentation between medullary thymic epithelial cells (mTECs) and dendritic cells (DCs) occurs remains unknown. Perry et al. show that CD36, a scavenger receptor expressed on CD8α+ DCs, mediates acquisition and presentation of cell-surface antigens from mTECs for T cell receptor repertoire development and allo-tolerance during bone marrow transplantation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)923-936.e4
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 15 2018


  • CD36
  • antigen transfer
  • apoptotic cell clearance
  • efferocytosis
  • medullary thymic epithelial cells
  • regulatory T cells
  • scavenger receptor
  • thymic dendritic cells
  • tolerance


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