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1.  Survivin Loss in Thymocytes Triggers p53-mediated Growth Arrest and p53-independent Cell Death 
Because survivin-null embryos die at an early embryonic stage, the role of survivin in thymocyte development is unknown. We have investigated the role by deleting the survivin gene only in the T lineage and show here that loss of survivin blocks the transition from CD4− CD8− double negative (DN) thymocytes to CD4+ CD8+ double positive cells. Although the pre–T cell receptor signaling pathway is intact in survivin-deficient thymocytes, the cells cannot respond to its signals. In response to proliferative stimuli, cycling survivin-deficient DN cells exhibit cell cycle arrest, a spindle formation defect, and increased cell death. Strikingly, loss of survivin activates the tumor suppressor p53. However, the developmental defects caused by survivin deficiency cannot be rescued by p53 inactivation or introduction of Bcl-2. These lines of evidence indicate that developing thymocytes depend on the cytoprotective function of survivin and that this function is tightly coupled to cell proliferation but independent of p53 and Bcl-2. Thus, survivin plays a critical role in early thymocyte development.
PMCID: PMC2211792  PMID: 14757745
pre–T cell; cell death; development; thymus; mitosis
2.  Impaired CD28-mediated Interleukin 2 Production and Proliferation in Stress Kinase SAPK/ERK1 Kinase (SEK1)/Mitogen-activated Protein Kinase Kinase 4 (MKK4)-deficient T Lymphocytes  
The dual specific kinase SAPK/ERK1 kinase (SEK1; mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 4/Jun NH2 terminal kinase [ JNK] kinase) is a direct activator of stress-activated protein kinases ([SAPKs]/JNKs) in response to CD28 costimulation, CD40 signaling, or activation of the germinal center kinase. Here we show that SEK1−/− recombination-activating gene (RAG)2−/− chimeric mice have a partial block in B cell maturation. However, peripheral B cells displayed normal responses to IL-4, IgM, and CD40 cross-linking. SEK1−/− peripheral T cells showed decreased proliferation and IL-2 production after CD28 costimulation and PMA/Ca2+ ionophore activation. Although CD28 expression was absolutely crucial to generate vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV)-specific germinal centers, SEK1−/−RAG2−/− chimeras mounted a protective antiviral B cell response, exhibited normal IgG class switching, and made germinal centers in response to VSV. Interestingly, PMA/Ca2+ ionophore stimulation, which mimics TCR–CD3 and CD28-mediated signal transduction, induced SAPK/JNK activation in peripheral T cells, but not in thymocytes, from SEK1−/− mice. These results show that signaling pathways for SAPK activation are developmentally regulated in T cells. Although SEK1−/− thymocytes failed to induce SAPK/JNK in response to PMA/Ca2+ ionophore, SEK1−/−RAG2−/− thymocytes proliferated and made IL-2 after PMA/Ca2+ ionophore and CD3/CD28 stimulation, albeit at significantly lower levels compared to SEK1+/+RAG2−/− thymocytes, implying that CD28 costimulation and PMA/Ca2+ ionophore–triggered signaling pathways exist that can mediate proliferation and IL-2 production independently of SAPK activation. Our data provide the first genetic evidence that SEK1 is an important effector molecule that relays CD28 signaling to IL-2 production and T cell proliferation.
PMCID: PMC2199046  PMID: 9294148

Results 1-2 (2)