Cytokine-dependent and cytokine-independent roles for Mcl-1: genetic evidence for multiple mechanisms by which Mcl-1 promotes survival in primary T lymphocytes.
Myeloid cell leukemia sequence-1 (Mcl-1) is a critical anti-apoptotic factor in T lymphocytes. However, in spite of the many pro-apoptotic proteins with proposed binding to Mcl-1, the specific interactions by which Mcl-1 regulates primary T-cell survival under different conditions have not been fully explored. Further, how different trophic cytokines modulate the specific role(s) of Mcl-1 is unknown. Here, we use genetic mouse models to dissect the roles of Mcl-1 in primary T lymphocytes. Using the inducible Mcl-1-floxed estrogen receptor-Cre fusion protein (Mcl-1(f/f)ERCre) deletion system in combination with genetic modification of other B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2) family members, we show that loss of pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 homologous antagonist/killer (Bak) rescues the survival of Mcl-1-deficient T cells in the presence of IL-7. Without IL-7, the survival of Mcl-1-deficient cells cannot be rescued by loss of Bak, but is partially rescued by overexpression of Bcl-2 or loss of Bcl-2-interacting mediator of cell death (Bim). Thus, Mcl-1 and Bcl-2 have a shared role, the inhibition of Bim, in promoting T-cell survival during cytokine withdrawal. Finally, we show that other common gamma-chain (γc) cytokines differentially modulate the roles of Mcl-1. IL-15 has effects similar to those of IL-7 in memory T cells and naïve CD8(+) cells, but not naïve CD4(+) cells. However, IL-4 maintains Mcl-1 and Bcl-2 but also upregulates Bim and Bcl-2-associated X protein (Bax), thus altering the cell's dependence on Mcl-1.
Dunkle, A; Dzhagalov, I; He, Y-W
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