A role for E2-2 at the DN3 stage of early thymopoiesis

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Roles for the E-proteins E2A and HEB during T lymphocyte development have been well established. Based on our previous observations of counter selection against T cells lacking E2-2, it seemed reasonable to assume that there would be a function also for E2-2 in thymocyte development. Aiming at assigning such a role for E2-2, we analyzed the expression of E2-2, E2A, HEB as well as Id mRNA during T cell development. Interestingly, whereas all three E-proteins were expressed during early thymocyte development, significant expression beyond the DP stage was detected only for E2A. Among the Id proteins, Id2 displayed a prominent expression exclusively in DN1, whereas Id3 showed some expression in DN1, followed by a down regulation and then a prominent induction, peaking in the DP stage. E2-2 was expressed during the DN stages, as well as in the DP stage, suggesting that E2-2 operates in concert with the other E-proteins during early thymocyte development. We found that E2-2 null thymocytes displayed a partial block at the DN3 stage of development, as well as a reduced expression of pre-T alpha, known to be regulated also by E2A and HEB. The fact that E2-2 deficient thymocytes develop without gross abnormalities is likely to stem from redundancy due to the co-expression of E2A and HEB.

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