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J Exp Med. 2012 Aug 27;209(9):1641-53. doi: 10.1084/jem.20110306. Epub 2012 Aug 6.

A role for apoptosis-inducing factor in T cell development.

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  • 1National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi 110067, India.


Apoptosis-inducing factor (Aif) is a mitochondrial flavoprotein that regulates cell metabolism and survival in many tissues. We report that aif-hypomorphic harlequin (Hq) mice show thymic hypocellularity and a cell-autonomous thymocyte developmental block associated with apoptosis at the β-selection stage, independent of T cell receptor β recombination. No abnormalities are observed in the B cell lineage. Transgenes encoding wild-type or DNA-binding-deficient mutant Aif rectify the thymic defect, but a transgene encoding oxidoreductase activity-deficient mutant Aif does not. The Hq thymic block is reversed in vivo by antioxidant treatment, and Hq T but not B lineage cells show enhanced oxidative stress. Thus, Aif, a ubiquitous protein, serves a lineage-specific nonredundant antiapoptotic role in the T cell lineage by regulating reactive oxygen species during thymic β-selection.

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