Cooperating pre-T-cell receptor and TCF-1-dependent signals ensure thymocyte survival
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Intrathymic T-cell maturation critically depends on the selective expansion of thymocytes expressing a functionally rearranged T-cell receptor (TCR) beta chain. In addition, TCR-independent signals also contribute to normal T-cell development. It is unclear whether and how signals from the 2 types of pathways are integrated. Here, we show that T-cell factor-1 (TCF-1), a nuclear effector of the canonical wingless/int (wnt)/catenin signaling pathway, ensures the survival of proliferating, pre-TCR+ thymocytes. The survival of pre-TCR+ thymocytes requires the presence of the N-terminal catenin-binding domain in TCF-1. This domain can bind the transcriptional coactivator beta-catenin and may also bind gamma-catenin (plakoglobin). However, in the absence of gamma-catenin, T-cell development is normal, supporting a role for beta-catenin. Signaling competent beta-catenin is present prior to and thus arises independently from pre-TCR signaling and does not substantially increase on pre-TCR signaling. In contrast, preTCR signaling significantly induces TCF-1 expression. This coincides with the activation of a wnt/catenin/TCF reporter transgene in vivo. Collectively, these data suggest that efficient TCF-dependent transcription requires that pre-TCR signaling induces TCF-1 expression, whereas wnt signals may provide the coactivator such as beta-catenin. The 2 pathways thus have to cooperate to ensure thymocyte survival at the pre-TCR stage.
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BLOOD, 2005, 106 pp. 1726 - 1733