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EMBO J. 2000 Jul 3;19(13):3337-48.

Constitutive activation of NF-kappaB and T-cell leukemia/lymphoma in Notch3 transgenic mice.

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  • 1Department of Experimental Medicine and Pathology, University La Sapienza, Roma, Italy.


The multiplicity of Notch receptors raises the question of the contribution of specific isoforms to T-cell development. Notch3 is expressed in CD4(-)8(-) thymocytes and is down-regulated across the CD4(-)8(-) to CD4(+)8(+) transition, controlled by pre-T-cell receptor signaling. To determine the effects of Notch3 on thymocyte development, transgenic mice were generated, expressing lck promoter-driven intracellular Notch3. Thymuses of young transgenics showed an increased number of thymocytes, particularly late CD4(-)8(-) cells, a failure to down-regulate CD25 in post-CD4(-)8(-) subsets and sustained activity of NF-kappaB. Subsequently, aggressive multicentric T-cell lymphomas developed with high penetrance. Tumors sustained characteristics of immature thymocytes, including expression of CD25, pTalpha and activated NF-kappaB via IKKalpha-dependent degradation of IkappaBalpha and enhancement of NF-kappaB-dependent anti-apoptotic and proliferative pathways. Together, these data identify activated Notch3 as a link between signals leading to NF-kappaB activation and T-cell tumorigenesis. The phenotypes of pre-malignant thymocytes and of lymphomas indicate a novel and particular role for Notch3 in co-ordinating growth and differentiation of thymocytes, across the pre-T/T cell transition, consistent with the normal expression pattern of Notch3.

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