The Ets-1 transcription factor is required for complete pre-T cell receptor function and allelic exclusion at the T cell receptor beta locus.
ABSTRACT: The pre-T cell receptor (TCR) functions as a critical checkpoint during alphabeta T cell development. Signaling through the pre-TCR controls the differentiation of immature CD4(-)CD8(-)CD25(+)CD44(-) [double-negative (DN)3] thymocytes into CD4(+)CD8(+) double-positive (DP) cells through the CD4(-)CD8(-)CD25(-)CD44(-)(DN4) stage. In addition, pre-TCR activity triggers expansion and survival of thymocytes and inhibits TCRbeta gene rearrangement through a process referred to as allelic exclusion. Whereas many proteins involved in the pre-TCR transduction cascade have been identified, little is known about the nuclear factors associated with receptor function. Here, we use gene targeting to inactivate the Ets-1 transcription factor in mice and analyze pre-TCR function in developing Ets-1-deficient (Ets-1(-/-)) thymocytes. We find that inactivation of Ets-1 impairs the development of DN3 into DP thymocytes and induces an elevated rate of cell death in the DN4 subset. This defect appears specific to the alphabeta lineage because gammadelta T cells maturate efficiently. Finally, the percentage of thymocytes coexpressing two different TCRbeta chains is increased in the Ets-1(-/-) background and, in contrast with wild type, forced activation of pre-TCR signaling does not block endogenous TCRbeta gene rearrangement. These data identify Ets-1 as a critical transcription factor for pre-TCR functioning and for allelic exclusion at the TCRbeta locus.
Project description:Genetic inactivation of Notch signaling in CD4(-)CD8(-) double-negative (DN) thymocytes was previously shown to impair T cell receptor (TCR) gene rearrangement and to cause a partial block in CD4(+)CD8(+) double-positive (DP) thymocyte development in mice. In contrast, in vitro cultures suggested that Notch was absolutely required for the generation of DP thymocytes independent of pre-TCR expression and activity. To resolve the respective role of Notch and the pre-TCR, we inhibited Notch-mediated transcriptional activation in vivo with a green fluorescent protein-tagged dominant-negative Mastermind-like 1 (DNMAML) that allowed us to track single cells incapable of Notch signaling. DNMAML expression in DN cells led to decreased production of DP thymocytes but only to a modest decrease in intracellular TCRbeta expression. DNMAML attenuated the pre-TCR-associated increase in cell size and CD27 expression. TCRbeta or TCRalphabeta transgenes failed to rescue DNMAML-related defects. Intrathymic injections of DNMAML(-) or DNMAML(+) DN thymocytes revealed a complete DN/DP transition block, with production of DNMAML(+) DP thymocytes only from cells undergoing late Notch inactivation. These findings indicate that the Notch requirement during the beta-selection checkpoint in vivo is absolute and independent of the pre-TCR, and it depends on transcriptional activation by Notch via the CSL/RBP-J-MAML complex.
Project description:Signaling via the pre-T cell antigen receptor (pre-TCR) and the receptor Notch1 induces transient self-renewal (?-selection) of TCR?(+) CD4(-)CD8(-) double-negative stage 3 (DN3) and DN4 progenitor cells that differentiate into CD4(+)CD8(+) double-positive (DP) thymocytes, which then rearrange the locus encoding the TCR ?-chain (Tcra). Interleukin 7 (IL-7) promotes the survival of TCR?(-) DN thymocytes by inducing expression of the pro-survival molecule Bcl-2, but the functions of IL-7 during ?-selection have remained unclear. Here we found that IL-7 signaled TCR?(+) DN3 and DN4 thymocytes to upregulate genes encoding molecules involved in cell growth and repressed the gene encoding the transcriptional repressor Bcl-6. Accordingly, IL-7-deficient DN4 cells lacked trophic receptors and did not proliferate but rearranged Tcra prematurely and differentiated rapidly. Deletion of Bcl6 partially restored the self-renewal of DN4 cells in the absence of IL-7, but overexpression of BCL2 did not. Thus, IL-7 critically acts cooperatively with signaling via the pre-TCR and Notch1 to coordinate proliferation, differentiation and Tcra recombination during ?-selection.
Project description:In mice that express a transgene for the 2C T cell antigen-receptor (TCR) and lack a recombinase-activating gene (2C(+)RAG(-/-) mice) most of the peripheral T cells are CD8(+), a few are CD4(+), and a significant fraction are CD4(-)CD8(-) [double negative (DN)]. The DN 2C cells, like DN T cells that are abundant in various other alphabeta TCR-transgenic mice, appear to be derived directly from DN thymocytes that prematurely express the TCR transgene. The DN 2C cells are virtually absent in mice deficient in major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC-II) but more abundant in mice deficient in MHC-I, suggesting that the DN 2C thymocytes are positively selected by self-peptide-MHC-II (pMHC-II) complexes and negatively selected by self-pMHC-I complexes. The pMHC-I complexes, however, positively select CD8(+) 2C T cells in the same mice. The different effects of thymic pMHC-I on DN and CD8(+) thymocytes are consistent with the finding that DN 2C thymocytes are more sensitive than more mature CD4(+)CD8(+) [double positive (DP)] thymocytes to a weak pMHC-I agonist for the 2C TCR. Together with previous evidence that DP thymocytes respond more sensitively than T cells in the periphery to weak pMHC agonists, the findings suggest progressive decreases in responsiveness to self-pMHC-I complexes as thymocytes develop from DN to DP thymocytes and then to mature naïve T cells in the periphery.
Project description:To become mature alphabeta T cells, developing thymocytes must first assemble a T cell receptor (TCR) beta chain gene encoding a TCRbeta chain that forms a pre-TCR. These cells then need to generate a TCRalpha chain gene encoding a TCRalpha chain, which, when paired with the TCRbeta chain, forms a selectable alphabeta TCR. Newly generated VJalpha rearrangements that do not encode TCRalpha chains capable of forming selectable alphabeta TCRs can be excised from the chromosome and replaced with new VJalpha rearrangements. Such replacement occurs through the process of TCRalpha chain gene revision whereby a Valpha gene segment upstream of the VJalpha rearrangement is appended to a downstream Jalpha gene segment. A multistep, gene-targeting approach was used to generate a modified TCRalpha locus (TCRalpha(sJ)) with a limited capacity to undergo revision of TCRalpha chain genes. Thymocytes from mice homozygous for the TCRalpha(sJ) allele are defective in their ability to generate an alphabeta TCR. Furthermore, those thymocytes that do generate an alphabeta TCR have a diminished capacity to be positively selected, and TCRalpha(sJ/sJ) mice have significantly reduced numbers of mature alphabeta T cells. Together, these findings demonstrate that normal T cell development relies on the ability of developing thymocytes to revise their TCRalpha chain genes.
Project description:The T cell receptor (TCR) is required for positive selection and the subsequent transition from the CD4(+)CD8(+) double-positive (DP) to the CD4(+) or CD8(+) single-positive (SP) stage of alphabeta T cell development. The molecular mechanism that maintains DP fate prior to the acquisition of a functional TCR is not clear. We have shown here that the structurally and functionally related transcription factors HEB and E2A work together to maintain DP fate and to control the DP to SP transition. Simultaneous deletion of HEB and E2A in DP thymocytes was sufficient for DP to SP transition independent of TCR. Loss of HEB and E2A allowed DP cells to bypass the requirement for TCR-mediated positive selection, downregulate DP-associated genes, and upregulate SP-specific genes. These results identify HEB and E2A as the gatekeepers that maintain cells at the DP stage of development until a functional alphabetaTCR is produced.
Project description:Type I invariant NKT cells (iNKT cells) are a subset of alphabeta T cells characterized by the expression of an invariant alpha-chain variable region 14-alpha-chain joining region 18 (V(alpha)14J(alpha)18) T cell antigen receptor (TCR) alpha-chain. The iNKT cells derive from CD4(+)CD8(+) double-positive (DP) thymocytes, and their generation requires a long half-life of DP thymocytes to allow V(alpha)14-J(alpha)18 rearrangements, expression of glycolipid-loaded CD1d on DP thymocytes, and signaling through the signaling-activation molecule SLAM-adaptor SAP pathway. Here we show that the transcription factor c-Myb has a central role in priming DP thymocytes to enter the iNKT lineage by simultaneously regulating CD1d expression, the half-life of DP cells and expression of SLAMF1, SLAMF6 and SAP.
Project description:GLUT1, the major glucose transporter in peripheral T lymphocytes, is induced upon T cell receptor activation. However, the role of GLUT1 during human thymocyte differentiation remains to be evaluated. Our identification of GLUT1 as the human T lymphotrophic virus (HTLV) receptor has enabled us to use tagged HTLV-receptor-binding domain fusion proteins to specifically monitor surface GLUT1 expression. Here, we identify a unique subset of CD4+ CD8+ double-positive (DP) thymocytes, based on their GLUT1 surface expression. Whereas these cells express variable levels of CD8, they express uniformly high levels of CD4. Glucose uptake was 7-fold higher in CD4(hi) DP thymocytes than in CD4(lo) DP thymocytes (P = 0.0002). Further analyses indicated that these GLUT1+ thymocytes are early post-beta-selection, as demonstrated by low levels of T cell receptor (TCR)alphabeta and CD3. This population of immature GLUT1+ DP cells is rapidly cycling and can be further distinguished by specific expression of the transferrin receptor. Importantly, the CXCR4 chemokine receptor is expressed at 15-fold higher levels on GLUT1+ DP thymocytes, as compared with the DP GLUT1- subset, and the former cells show enhanced chemotaxis to the CXCR4 ligand CXCL12. Thus, during human thymopoiesis, GLUT1 is up-regulated after beta-selection, and these immature DP cells constitute a population with distinct metabolic and chemotactic properties.
Project description:The precise function of cis elements in regulating V(D)J recombination is still controversial. Here, we determined the effect of inactivation of the TCRbeta enhancer (Ebeta) on cleavage and rearrangement of Dbeta1, Dbeta2, Jbeta1, and Jbeta2 gene segments in CD4-CD8- [double-negative (DN)] and CD4+CD8+ [double-positive (DP)] thymocytes. In Ebeta-deficient mice, (i) Dbeta1 rearrangements were more severely impaired than Dbeta2 rearrangements; (ii) most of the Dbeta and Jbeta cleavages and rearrangements occurred in DP, rather than in DN, thymocytes; and (iii) most of the 3' Dbeta1 cleavages were coupled to 5' Dbeta2 cleavages instead of to Jbeta cleavages, resulting in nonstandard Dbeta1-Dbeta2-Jbeta2 joints. These findings suggest that the Ebeta regulates TCRbeta rearrangement by promoting accessibility of Dbeta and Jbeta gene segments in DN thymocytes and proper pairing between Dbeta1 and Jbeta gene segments for cleavage and joining in DP thymocytes.
Project description:Although natural killer T cells (NKT cells) are thought to be generated from CD4+CD8+ (DP) thymocytes, the developmental origin of CD4-CD8- (DN) NKT cells has remained unclear. In this study, we found the level of NK1.1 expression was highest in DN cells, followed by CD4 and CD8 (SP) and DP cells. The level of NK1.1 expression was highest in CD44+CD25- (DN1) cells, after that CD44+CD25+ (DN2), finally, CD44-CD25- (DN3) and CD44- CD25+ (DN4) cells. Unexpectedly, cytoplasmic CD3 was not only expressed in SP and DP thymocytes but also in most DN thymocytes at various stages. The mean fluorescence of cytoplasmic and surface CD3 in DN cells was significantly lower than in mature (SP) T and NKT cells in the thymus and spleen. Interestingly, there were more NKT cells in DN-cytoplasmic CD3 expression cells was higher than in DN-surface CD3 expression cells. There were more CD3-NKT cells in DN1 thymocytes than in TCR-β-NKT cells. NKT cells expressed higher levels of IL-7Rα which was correlated with CD44 expression in the thymus. Our data suggest that T cells and NKT cells follow similar patterns of expression with respect to cytoplasmic and surface CD3. Cytoplasmic CD3 could be used as a marker for early stage T cells. Both cytoplasmic CD3 and surface CD3 were expressed in mature T cells and immature T cells, including the immature cytoplasmic CD3+ surface CD3- and surface CD3+TCR-β- cells in DN1-NKT thymocytes. CD44 could be used as an additional marker of NKT cells which may originate from cytoplasmic CD3-positive DN thymocytes that express CD44 and IL-7Rα in mice.
Project description:The relationship between alpha/beta and gamma/delta T-cell lineages was studied in rats using RT-PCR analysis of TCRbeta transcripts in gamma/delta T-cell hybridomas and an intracellular staining technique to detect TCRbeta protein in primary gamma/delta T-cells. We report the presence of functional TCRbeta transcripts in 2/9 gamma/delta T-cell hybridomas. About 15% of peripheral gamma/delta T-cells and thymocytes also express TCRbeta protein, giving a minimum estimate for successful Tcrb rearrangement based on ex vivo single cell analysis. In athymic rats, gamma/delta T-cells expressing intracellular beta protein are present but at a lower frequency than in euthymic controls, suggesting that in the thymus, more gamma/delta T-cell precursors pass through a stage where functional beta rearrangement has occurred than in extrathymic sites. Analysis of TCR expression in purified transitory immature CD4-8+ (iCD8SP) thymocytes and their spontaneously developing CD4+8+ (DP) progeny showed that TCRy mRNA is expressed in iCD8SP cells but not in their immediate DP progeny that reinitiate RAG-I transcription and commence alpha/betaTCR expression. We conclude that rat gamma/delta T cells can separate from the alpha/beta lineage after TCRbeta expression, but not after entry into the DP compartment.