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NF-kappa B/Rel proteins are ubiquitous transcription factors that are activated by proinflammatory signals or engagement of Ag receptors. To study the role of NF-kappa B/Rel signaling in T lymphocytes during autoimmune disease, we investigated type II collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) in transgenic mice expressing a constitutive inhibitor of NF-kappa B/Rel (I kappa B alpha(Delta N)) in the T lineage. Expression of the I kappa B alpha(Delta N) transgene was persistently high in adult peripheral lymphoid organs and undetectable in T cell-depleted splenocytes, suggesting the expression of the transgene is restricted to the T lineage. The incidence and severity of CIA were decreased significantly in these I kappa B alpha(Delta N) transgenic mice compared with nontransgenic littermates. Inhibition of CIA was not due solely to a decrease in their CD8+ population because transfer of wild-type CD8+ cells into transgenic mice failed to restore disease susceptibility. Protection against disease was associated with a moderate decrease in clonal expansion and a profound and persistent decrease in Ag-induced IFN-gamma production in vivo. Consistent with decreased level of anti-type II collagen-specific Abs and IFN-gamma, serum levels of IgG2a anti-CII Abs were significantly reduced. However, anti-CII-specific IgG1 levels were normal, indicating that some aspects of T cell help were unaffected. Taken together, these results suggest that inhibition of NF-kappa B in T cells impairs CIA development in vivo through decreases in type 1 T cell-dependent responses.
The endocrine pancreas is organized into clusters of cells called islets of Langerhans comprising four well-defined cell types: alpha beta, delta and PP cells. While recent genetic studies indicate that islet development depends on the function of an integrated network of transcription factors, the specific roles of these factors in early cell-type specification and differentiation remain elusive. Nkx2.2 is a member of the mammalian NK2 homeobox transcription factor family that is expressed in the ventral CNS and the pancreas. Within the pancreas, we demonstrate that Nkx2.2 is expressed in alpha, beta and PP cells, but not in delta cells. In addition, we show that mice homozygous for a null mutation of Nkx2.2 develop severe hyperglycemia and die shortly after birth. Immunohistochemical analysis reveals that the mutant embryos lack insulin-producing beta cells and have fewer glucagon-producing alpha cells and PP cells. Remarkably, in the mutants there remains a large population of islet cells that do not produce any of the four endocrine hormones. These cells express some beta cell markers, such as islet amyloid polypeptide and Pdx1, but lack other definitive beta cell markers including glucose transporter 2 and Nkx6.1. We propose that Nkx2.2 is required for the final differentiation of pancreatic beta cells, and in its absence, beta cells are trapped in an incompletely differentiated state.
The Paneth cell lineage is one of four epithelial lineages derived from the adult mouse small intestine's multipotent stem cell. Mature Paneth cells secrete antimicrobial peptides (cryptdins), growth factors, as well as two gene products, a secreted phospholipase A2 and matrilysin, that has been implicated as modifiers of adenoma formation in mice containing a mutation in the tumor suppressor Apc. Immature Paneth cells are located just above and below the cell layer, in intestinal crypts, that has been proposed to contain the multipotent stem cell. Paneth cells differentiate during a downward migration to the crypt base. The location and direction of Paneth cell migration, their high density and long residency time at the crypt base, and the nature of their secreted gene products, suggest that they may influence the structure and/or function of the stem cell niche. Paneth cell ablation can therefore be viewed as an experimental manipulation of the cellular microenvironment that purportedly contains the stem cell and its immediate descendants. Two types of ablation experiments were performed in transgenic mice. Nucleotides -6500 to +34 of the mouse cryptdin-2 gene (CR2) were used to express an attenuated diphtheria toxin A fragment. Light and electron microscopic immunohistochemical analyses of several pedigrees of postnatal day 28 to 180 animals established that ablation of Paneth cells is accompanied by an increase in the proportion of undifferentiated crypt base columnar cells. These cells normally co-exist with Paneth cells. The ablation does not produce a detectable effect on the proliferation or terminal differentiation programs of the other three lineages or on host-microbial interactions. The last conclusion is based on the ability of crypts to remain free of microbes detectable by Gram and Warthin-Starry stains and by retention of the normal crypt-villus distribution of components of the diffuse gut-associated lymphoid tissue. CR2-directed expression of simian virus 40 large T antigen also results in a loss of mature Paneth cells but produces a marked amplification of crypt cells having a morphology intermediate between Paneth and granule goblet cells. EM immunohistochemical analyses suggest that intermediate cells can differentiate to mature goblet cells but not to Paneth cells, as they migrate up the crypt-villus axis. Our findings suggest that (i) stemness in the crypt is not defined by instructive interactions involving the Paneth cell; (ii) expressing a Paneth cell fate may require that precursors migrate to the crypt base; (iii) antimicrobial factors produced by Paneth cells are not required to prevent colonization of small intestinal crypts; and (iv) this lineage does not function to maintain the asymmetric crypt-villus distribution of components of the diffuse gut-associated lymphoid tissue.
Members of the nuclear factor (NF)-kappaB/Rel family transcription factors are induced during thymic selection and in mature T lymphocytes after ligation of the T cell antigen receptor (TCR). Despite these findings, disruption of individual NF-kappaB/Rel genes has revealed no intrinsic defect in the development of mature T cells, perhaps reflecting functional redundancy. To circumvent this possibility, the T cell lineage was targeted to express a trans-dominant form of IkappaBalpha that constitutively represses the activity of multiple NF-kappaB/Rel proteins. Transgenic cells expressing this inhibitor exhibit a significant proliferative defect, which is not reversed by the addition of exogenous interleukin-2. Moreover, mitogenic stimulation of splenocytes leads to increased apoptosis of transgenic T cells as compared with controls. In addition to deregulated T cell growth and survival, transgene expression impairs the development of normal T cell populations as evidenced by diminished numbers of TCRhi CD8 single-positive thymocytes. This defect was significantly amplified in the periphery and was accompanied by a decrease in CD4(+) T cells. Taken together, these in vivo findings indicate that the NF-kappaB/Rel signaling pathway contains compensatory components that are essential for the establishment of normal T cell subsets.
The gene mfh1, encoding a winged helix/forkhead domain transcription factor, is expressed in a dynamic pattern in paraxial and presomitic mesoderm and developing somites during mouse embryogenesis. Expression later becomes restricted to condensing mesenchyme of the vertebrae, head, limbs, and kidney. A targeted disruption of the gene was generated by homologous recombination in embryonic stem cells. Most homozygous mfh1 null embryos die prenatally but some survive to birth, with multiple craniofacial and vertebral column defects. Using molecular markers, we show that the initial formation and patterning of somites occurs normally in mutants. Differentiation of sclerotome-derived cells also appears unaffected, although a reduction of the level of some markers [e.g., mtwist, mf1, scleraxis, and alpha1(II) collagen] is seen in the anterior of homozygous mutants. The most significant difference, however, is a marked reduction in the proliferation of sclerotome-derived cells, as judged by BrdU incorporation. This proliferation defect was also seen in micromass cultures of somite-derived cells treated with transforming growth factor beta1 and fibroblast growth factors. Our findings establish a requirement for a winged helix/forkhead domain transcription factor in the development of the paraxial mesoderm. A model is proposed for the role of mfh1 in regulating the proliferation and differentiation of cell lineages giving rise to the axial skeleton and skull.
Injection of RNA encoding BMP-4 into the early Xenopus embryo suppresses formation of dorsal and anterior cell types. To understand this phenomenon, it is necessary to know the stage at which BMP-4 acts. In this paper, we present three lines of evidence showing that BMP-4 misexpression has no effect on the initial steps of mesoderm induction, either dorsal or ventral, but instead causes ventralization during gastrulation. Firstly, activation of organizer-specific genes such as goosecoid, Xnot, pintallavis and noggin occurs normally in embryos injected with BMP-4 RNA, but transcript levels are then rapidly down-regulated as gastrulation proceeds. Similarly, BMP-4 does not affect the initial activation of goosecoid by activin in animal caps, but expression then declines precipitously. Secondly, embryos made ventral by injection with BMP-4 RNA cannot be rescued by grafts of Spemann's organizer at gastrula stages. Such embryos therefore differ from those made ventral by UV-irradiation, where the defect occurs early and rescue can be effected by the organizer. Finally, the dorsalizing effects of the organizer, and of the candidate dorsalizing signal noggin, both of which exert their effects during gastrulation, can be counteracted by BMP-4. Together, these experiments demonstrate that BMP-4 can act during gastrulation both to promote ventral mesoderm differentiation and to attenuate dorsalizing signals derived from the organizer.