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EMBO J. 1998 Sep 15;17(18):5349-59.

Evidence implicating Gfi-1 and Pim-1 in pre-T-cell differentiation steps associated with beta-selection.

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Institut für Zellbiologie (Tumorforschung), IFZ, Universitätsklinikum Essen, Virchowstrasse 173, D-45122 Essen, Germany.


After rearrangement of the T-cell receptor (TCR) beta-locus, early CD4(-)/CD8(-) double negative (DN) thymic T-cells undergo a process termed 'beta-selection' that allows the preferential expansion of cells with a functional TCR beta-chain. This process leads to the formation of a rapidly cycling subset of DN cells that subsequently develop into CD4(+)/CD8(+) double positive (DP) cells. Using transgenic mice that constitutively express the zinc finger protein Gfi-1 and the serine/threonine kinase Pim-1, we found that the levels of both proteins are important for the correct development of DP cells from DN precursors at the stage where 'beta-selection' occurs. Analysis of the CD25(+)/CD44(-,lo) DN subpopulation from these animals revealed that Gfi-1 inhibits and Pim-1 promotes the development of larger beta-selected cycling cells ('L subset') from smaller resting cells ('E subset') within this subpopulation. We conclude from our data that both proteins, Pim-1 and Gfi-1, participate in the regulation of beta-selection-associated pre-T-cell differentiation in opposite directions and that the ratio of both proteins is important for pre-T-cells to pass the 'E' to 'L' transition correctly during beta-selection.

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