Thymic epithelial cell lines (TECs) were established from newborn C57BL/6 mice. They were classified into two types (medullary and cortical TECs) by using the monoclonal antibody (Th-3) that recognizes the meshwork structure of thymic cortical epithelial cells. Antigen-presenting activity of each TEC was determined by using ovalbumin-specific, I-Ab-restricted helper T cell lines. It was demonstrated that the medullary but not the cortical TECs functioned as antigen-presenting cells. This is the first evidence for the functional difference between the cortical and the medullary TEC.

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