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J Immunol. 2005 Aug 1;175(3):1532-9.

Regulation of Bim by TCR signals in CD4/CD8 double-positive thymocytes.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


Bim, a BH3-only Bcl-2 family member, is required for apoptosis of thymocytes in response to negative selection signals. Regulation of the apoptotic activity of Bim during negative selection is not understood. In this study we demonstrate that in murine thymocytes undergoing apoptosis in response to anti-CD3epsilon injection, levels of Bim protein expression do not change. In immature thymocytes, Bim is associated with mitochondria before stimulation and is not regulated by a change in subcellular localization during apoptosis. We also show that Bim(EL) is rapidly phosphorylated in thymocytes in response to CD3epsilon cross-linking both in vivo and in vitro, and that phosphorylation is sustained for at least 24 h. Analysis of MHC-deficient mice shows that phosphorylation of Bim occurs in CD4/CD8 double-positive thymocytes and does not depend on activation of mature T cells. We also find that TCR cross-linking on thymocytes induces an increase in the proportion of Bcl-x(L) bound to Bim at late time points. Our results favor a model in which strong TCR signals regulate the apoptotic activity of Bim by phosphorylation and subsequent changes in binding to Bcl-x(L) in immature thymocytes.

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