Proper thymocyte development is required to establish T-cell central tolerance and to generate naive T cells, both of which are essential for T-cell homeostasis and a functional immune system. Here we demonstrate that the loss of transcription factor Foxp1 results in the abnormal development of T cells. Instead of generating naive T cells, Foxp1-deficient single-positive thymocytes acquire an activated phenotype prematurely in the thymus and lead to the generation of peripheral CD4(+) T and CD8(+) T cells that exhibit an activated phenotype and increased apoptosis and readily produce cytokines upon T-cell receptor engagement. These results identify Foxp1 as an essential transcriptional regulator for thymocyte development and the generation of quiescent naive T cells.
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