The Role of Id Proteins in the Development and Function of T and B Lymphocytes
E and Id proteins are members of the basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription regulator family. These proteins control a broad range of lymphocyte biology, from the development of multiple lineages to execution of their effector functions. With the development of new experiment models, novel functions of E and Id proteins continued to be discovered. In this thesis, I focused my study on the role of Id2 in gamma delta T cells and CD4<super>+</super> alpha beta T cells, as well as the role of Id3 in B cells.
Id proteins have been shown to control gamma delta T cell development. Id3 knockout mice demonstrate a dramatic expansion of innate-like Vgamma1.1<super>+</super> Vdelta6.3<super>+</super> T cells in the neonatal stage, suggesting that Id3 is an inhibitor of their development. Interestingly, Id3 knockout mice with a B6/129 mix background have much less expansion of the Vgamma1.1<super>+</super> Vdelta6.3<super>+</super> T cells compared to mice with pure B6 background. Genetic studies showed that this difference is strongly influences by a chromosome region very close to the Id2 locus. Using the Id2<super>f/f</super> CD4Cre<super>+</super> mice, I found that Id2 is also an inhibitor of gamma delta T cell development. Deletion of Id2 alone is sufficient to enhance the maturation of these cells in the thymus and induce a moderate expansion of gamma delta T cells in the periphery. This study demonstrated the delicate balance of transcription control in cells of the immune system.
The Id2<super>f/f</super> CD4Cre<super>+</super> mice also enabled me to study the role of Id2 in peripheral CD4<super>+</super> alpha beta T cell functions, which was difficult in the past because Id2 knockout mice lack lymph node development. I found that CD4 T cells in these mice have a profound defect in mounting immune responses, demonstrated by a complete resistance to induction of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). I found that Id2-deficient CD4 T cells fail to infiltrate the central nervous system, and the effector CD4 T cell population is smaller compared to that in control mice. Id2 is important for the survival and proliferation of effector CD4 T cells, and this phenotype was correlated with an increased expression of <italic>Bim</italic> and <italic>SOCS3</italic>. This study revealed a novel role of Id2 in the functioning of CD4<super>+ </super>alpha beta T cells.
Switching my focus to B cells, recent next generation sequencing of human Burkitt lymphoma samples revealed that a significant proportion of them have mutations of Id3. This finding suggests that Id3 may be a tumor suppressor gene in the lymphoid system. Utilizing various Id3 knockout and conditional knockout mouse models, I showed that Id3 deficiency can accelerate lymphoid tumor genesis driven by the over-expression of oncogene c-Myc. This work may lead to development of a more realistic mouse model of human Burkitt lymphoma, allowing more mechanistic studies and perhaps preclinical tests of new therapies.
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