Thymocytes and cultured thymic epithelial cells express transcripts encoding alpha-3, alpha-5 and beta-4 subunits of neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors: preferential transcription of the alpha-3 and beta-4 genes by immature CD4 + 8 + thymocytes.
Thymic tissues express transcripts encoding the alpha-3, alpha-5 and beta-4 subunits of nicotinic neuronal acetylcholine receptors (AcChRs) suggesting that neuronal AcChRs similar to those expressed in ganglia are expressed in the thymus. Transcription occurs in both isolated thymocytes and thymic epithelial cells. RT-PCR analyses of thymocyte subsets indicate that immature CD4 + 8 + thymocytes express higher levels of the alpha-3 and beta-4 transcripts than more mature thymocytes. Compared to freshly isolated thymocytes, peripheral blood lymphocytes do not express alpha-3 and beta-4 AcChR subunit transcripts. Cultured thymocytes rapidly down-regulate transcription of the alpha-3 and beta-4 AcChR subunit genes by a process that is not reversed by stimulation with phytohemagglutinin and IL-2. Thus our results indicate that there is transcriptional regulation of neuronal AcChR subunit genes during the process of thymocyte maturation and that factors within the thymic microenvironment influence expression of the alpha-3 and beta-4 AcChR subunit genes by developing T cells.
Mihovilovic, M; Denning, S; Mai, Y; Whichard, LP; Patel, DD; Roses, AD
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