Defective survival and activation of thymocytes in transgenic mice expressing a catalytically inactive form of Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase IV.
We have generated transgenic mice that express a catalytically inactive form of Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase IV (CaMKIV) specifically in thymic T cells. The presence of this protein results in a markedly reduced thymic cellularity, although the distribution of the remaining cells is normal based on evaluation of the CD4 and CD8 cell surface antigens that are used to gauge T cell development. Isolated thymic T cells from the transgenic mice also show a dramatically decreased survival rate when evaluated in culture under conditions that do not favor activation. When challenged with an activating stimulus such as alpha-CD3 or a combination of phorbol ester plus ionophore, the cells are severely compromised in their ability to produce the cytokine interleukin-2 (IL-2). Reduction of IL-2 production is secondary to the inability to phosphorylate the cAMP response element binding protein, CREB, and induce expression of the immediate early genes such as Fos B that are required to transactivate the IL-2 promoter. Because transgene expression was regulated by the proximal promoter of the murine lck gene and this promoter is inactivated in T cells that exit the thymus, the mutant hCaMKIV is not present in peripheral T cells. Consequently, T lymphocytes present in the spleen can be activated normally in response to either stimulus mentioned above, demonstrating that the effects of the inactive CaMKIV on activation are reversible. Our results suggest that CaMKIV may represent a physiologically relevant CREB kinase in T cells and that the enzyme is also required to ensure normal expansion of T cells in the thymus. Whereas the pathway responsible for this latter role is yet to be elucidated, it is unlikely to include CREB phosphorylation.
Anderson, KA; Ribar, TJ; Illario, M; Means, AR
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