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J Immunol. 2001 May 15;166(10):5945-54.

A requirement for IL-2/IL-2 receptor signaling in intrathymic negative selection.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Studies, University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19014, USA.

Abstract

The nature of the signals that influence thymocyte selection and determine the fate of CD4(+)8(+) (double positive) thymocytes remains unclear. Cytokines produced locally in the thymus may modulate signals delivered by TCR-MHC/peptide interactions and thereby influence the fate of double-positive thymocytes. Because the IL-2/IL-2R signaling pathway has been implicated in thymocyte and peripheral T cell survival, we investigated the possibility that IL-2/IL-2R interactions contribute to the deletion of self-reactive, Ag-specific thymocytes. By using nontransgenic and transgenic IL-2-sufficient and -deficient animal model systems, we have shown that during TCR-mediated thymocyte apoptosis, IL-2 protein is expressed in situ in the thymus, and apoptotic thymocytes up-regulate expression of IL-2RS: IL-2R(+) double-positive and CD4 single-positive thymocytes undergoing activation-induced cell death bind and internalize IL-2. IL-2-deficient thymocytes are resistant to TCR/CD3-mediated apoptotic death, which is overcome by providing exogenous IL-2 to IL-2(-/-) mice. Furthermore, disruption or blockade of IL-2/IL-2R interactions in vivo during Ag-mediated selection rescues some MHC class II-restricted thymocytes from apoptosis. Collectively, these findings provide evidence for the direct involvement of the IL-2/IL-2R signaling pathway in the deletion of Ag-specific thymocyte populations and suggest that CD4 T cell hyperplasia and autoimmunity in IL-2(-/-) mice is a consequence of ineffective deletion of self-reactive T cells.

PMID:
11342609
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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