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Dev Biol. 2005 Apr 15;280(2):448-66.

Subversion of T lineage commitment by PU.1 in a clonal cell line system.

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Division of Biology 156-29, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, 91125 USA.


Specification of mammalian T lymphocytes involves prolonged developmental plasticity even after lineage-specific gene expression begins. Expression of transcription factor PU.1 may maintain some myeloid-like developmental alternatives until commitment. Commitment could reflect PU.1 shutoff, resistance to PU.1 effects, and/or imposition of a suicide penalty for diversion. Here, we describe subclones from the SCID.adh murine thymic lymphoma, adh.2C2 and adh.6D4, that represent a new tool for probing these mechanisms. PU.1 can induce many adh.2C2 cells to undergo diversion to a myeloid-like phenotype, in an all-or-none fashion with multiple, coordinate gene expression changes; adh.6D4 cells resist diversion, and most die. Diversion depends on the PU.1 Ets domain but not on known interactions in the PEST or Q-rich domains, although the Q-rich domain enhances diversion frequency. Protein kinase C/MAP kinase stimulation can make adh.6D4 cells permissive for diversion without protecting from suicide. These results show distinct roles for regulated cell death and another stimulation-sensitive function that establishes a threshold for diversion competence. PU.1 also diverts normal T-cell precursors from wild type or Bcl2-transgenic mice to a myeloid-like phenotype, upon transduction in short-term culture. The adh.2C2 and adh.6D4 clones thus provide an accessible system for defining mechanisms controlling developmental plasticity in early T-cell development.

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