Gads-/- Mice Reveal Functionally Distinct Subsets of Tcr+ Cd4-Cd8- Double-Negative Thymocytes

Zeng, L.; Dalheimer, S.L.; Yankee, T.M.

The Journal of Immunology 179(2): 1013-1021


DOI: 10.4049/jimmunol.179.2.1013
Accession: 068490695

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TCRbeta expression in CD4(-)CD8(-) double-negative (DN) thymocytes induces signaling pathways that promote survival and proliferation, as well as differentiation into CD4(+)CD8(+) double-positive thymocytes. The signaling pathways that regulate survival, proliferation, and differentiation remain unclear. We used Gads-deficient mice to investigate the signaling pathways that regulate these cell fates. During this investigation, we focused on TCRbeta(+) DN thymocytes and found that there are at least three functionally distinct subsets of TCRbeta(+) DN thymocytes: TCRbeta(+) DN3E, TCRbeta(+) DN3L, and TCRbeta(+) DN4. Survival and proliferation of TCRbeta(+) DN3E were independent of Gads, but survival and proliferation of TCRbeta(+) DN3L cells were Gads dependent. Likewise, expression of Bcl-2 in TCRbeta(+) DN3E cells was Gads independent, but Gads was necessary for Bcl-2 expression in TCRbeta(+) DN3L cells. Bcl-2 expression was not dependent on Gads in TCRbeta(+) DN4 cells, but proliferation of TCRbeta(+) DN4 cells was Gads dependent. Gads was not required for the differentiation of DN thymocytes into DP thymocytes. In fact, Gads(-/-) DN3E cells differentiated into DP thymocytes more readily than wild-type cells. We conclude that signaling pathways required to initiate TCRbeta-induced survival and proliferation are distinct from the pathways that maintain survival and proliferation. Furthermore, signaling pathways that promote survival and proliferation may slow differentiation.