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J Immunol. 2007 Aug 1;179(3):1784-95.

A natural hypomorphic variant of the apoptosis regulator Gimap4/IAN1.

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Babraham Institute, Cambridge, United Kingdom.


The Gimap/IAN family of GTPases has been implicated in the regulation of cell survival, particularly in lymphomyeloid cells. Prosurvival and prodeath properties have been described for different family members. We generated novel serological reagents to study the expression in rats of the prodeath family member Gimap4 (IAN1), which is sharply up-regulated at or soon after the stage of T cell-positive selection in the thymus. During these investigations we were surprised to discover a severe deficiency of Gimap4 expression in the inbred Brown Norway (BN) rat. Genetic analysis linked this trait to the Gimap gene cluster on rat chromosome 4, the probable cause being an AT dinucleotide insertion in the BN Gimap4 allele (AT(+)). This allele encodes a truncated form of Gimap4 that is missing 21 carboxyl-terminal residues relative to wild type. The low protein expression associated with this allele appears to have a posttranscriptional cause, because mRNA expression was apparently normal. Spontaneous and induced apoptosis of BN and wild-type T cells was analyzed in vitro and compared with the recently described mouse Gimap4 knockout. This revealed a "delayed" apoptosis phenotype similar to but less marked than that of the knockout. The Gimap4 AT(+) allele found in BN was shown to be rare in inbred rat strains. Nevertheless, when wild rat DNA samples were studied the AT(+) allele was found at a high overall frequency ( approximately 30%). This suggests an adaptive significance for this hypomorphic allele.

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