Possible involvement of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor and its receptor, GFRalpha1, in survival and maturation of thymocytes

Eur J Immunol. 2003 Aug;33(8):2233-40. doi: 10.1002/eji.200323458.

Abstract

The glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) and its receptors (GFR) play important roles in the promotion of survival and differentiation of central and peripheral neuronal populations. We show that GFRalpha1, a component of GDNF receptor, was expressed in thymocytes at an early stage of thymocyte-development and was involved in the survival of thymocyte precursors. GFRalpha1and GDNF were expressed in thymus, but not in spleen or lymph nodes in adult mice. During embryonic thymocyte development, GFRalpha1 was predominantly expressed on thymocytes from days 14.5 to 16.5 of gestation, and thereafter its expression gradually declined. In adult thymus, GFRalpha1 was expressed only on CD4(-)CD8(-) double-negative (DN) thymocytes, but not on CD4(+)CD8(+) double-positive or single-positive thymocytes. It was strongly expressed on RAG2(-/-) thymocytes arrested at the DN stage, and ist expression was reduced during their differentiation after in vivo anti-CD3 antibody stimulation. Additionally, fetal thymocyte precursors grew in serum-free medium of the fetal thymus organ culture system in the presence of recombinant GDNF (rGDNF), while the cells without rGDNF died. These results suggested that GDNF/GFRalpha1 are involved in the survival of both the nervous system and DN immature thymocytes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD4 Antigens / metabolism
  • CD8 Antigens / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Survival
  • DNA, Complementary / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / deficiency
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Receptors
  • Lymphoid Tissue / cytology
  • Lymphoid Tissue / embryology
  • Lymphoid Tissue / immunology
  • Lymphoid Tissue / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Nerve Growth Factors / metabolism*
  • Nerve Growth Factors / pharmacology
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ret
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Recombinant Proteins / pharmacology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / cytology*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism*

Substances

  • CD4 Antigens
  • CD8 Antigens
  • DNA, Complementary
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Gdnf protein, mouse
  • Gfra1 protein, mouse
  • Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Receptors
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Rag2 protein, mouse
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • V(D)J recombination activating protein 2
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ret
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases