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Oncogene. 1999 Dec 23;18(56):7966-74.

Expression of activated CDC42 induces T cell apoptosis in thymus and peripheral lymph organs via different pathways.

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Section of Immunobiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, CT 06520-8011, USA.


CDC42, a Ras-related small GTP binding protein, is involved in diverse cellular functions in lymphocytes. We generated transgenic mice expressing constitutively active murine CDC42 (Q61L) under the control of the human CD2 promoter. Transgenic mice showed smaller thymi with a dramatic reduction of CD4+CD8+, CD4+ and CD8+ thymocytes and with increase of CD4-CD8- thymocytes at CD25-CD44+ and CD25+ stage. A high percentage of the transgenic thymocytes were apoptotic, explaining the reduction of cellularity and size of the thymus. Mature T cells (TCR alphabeta+) in peripheral lymph organs, spleen and lymph node, were also dramatically reduced, and exhibited massive apoptosis. Expression of Fas and Fas ligand on both thymocytes and peripheral T cells was upregulated in transgenic mice, but the increased apoptosis in the thymus was independent of Fas (CD95), whereas peripheral spleen and lymph node T cell apoptosis was Fas dependent. Thus, activated CDC42 triggers distinct apoptotic pathways in thymocytes and peripheral T cells.

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