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Blood. 2011 Sep 1;118(9):2511-9. doi: 10.1182/blood-2011-04-346726. Epub 2011 Jul 18.

Nonoverlapping functions for Notch1 and Notch3 during murine steady-state thymic lymphopoiesis.

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  • 1Department of Cancer Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, Jupiter, FL, USA.


Notch1 signaling is absolutely essential for steady-state thymic lymphopoiesis, but the role of other Notch receptors, and their potential overlap with the function of Notch1, remains unclear. Here we show that like Notch1, Notch3 is differentially expressed by progenitor thymocytes, peaking at the DN3 progenitor stage. Using mice carrying a gene-trapped allele, we show that thymic cellularity is slightly reduced in the absence of Notch3, although progression through the defined sequence of TCR-αβ development is normal, as are NKT and TCRγδ cell production. The absence of a profound effect from Notch3 deletion is not explained by residual function of the gene-trapped allele because insertion mapping suggests that the targeted allele would not encode functional signaling domains. We also show that although Notch1 and Notch3 are coexpressed on some early intrathymic progenitors, the relatively mild phenotype seen after Notch3 deletion does not result from the compensatory function of Notch1, nor does Notch3 function explain the likewise mild phenotype seen after conditional (intrathymic) deletion of Notch1. Our studies indicate that Notch1 and Notch3 carry out nonoverlapping functions during thymocyte differentiation, and that while Notch1 is absolutely required early in the lymphopoietic process, neither receptor is essential at later stages.

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