The mechanisms by which IL-7 maintains T-cell survival, and therefore regulate cellular fitness, have been the subject of numerous studies. Many of these have focused on the transcriptional control of key regulators of apoptosis such as anti-apoptotic factors Bcl2 and Mcl1. Evidence from knockout mice illustrates the importance played by the balance in expression of Bcl2 family members. The defects in thymopoeisis in mice lacking IL-7 or IL-7Rα learn more can be substantially rescued by over-expression of Bcl2 12, 13, or by compound deficiency with pro-apoptotic molecules such as Bax 14 or Bim 15. In vitro, it has long been
recognized that IL-7 stimulation of mutant T-cell lines or primary T cells up-regulates Bcl2 12, 13, 16–18, as well as Mcl1 19. Conversely, there have been other reports suggesting that Bcl2 expression is reduced in the absence of IL-7 signalling 3, 20–22. However, this is not observed in in vitro cultured T cells where particular care was taken to isolate viable cells 23. Therefore, find protocol although IL-7 can transcriptionally regulate Bcl2 expression, it remains unclear whether this accounts for the full range of IL-7 activity in vivo. While the identity of signals that regulate T-cell survival
are known, it remains unclear how such survival signals determine homeostatic fitness in order to regulate T-cell homeostasis in vivo. Are survival signals digital, permitting cell survival when intact and resulting in cell death in their absence, or do T cells indeed exhibit varying degrees of fitness depending on their current exposure to such survival signals? In this study, we report evidence for different mechanisms of IL-7 regulated T-cell survival evoked at different levels of IL-7 signalling. To examine T-cell survival in the absence of IL-7 signalling, we used a mouse model in which class I-restricted F5 TCR transgenic mice conditionally express IL-7Rα using the tetracycline regulatory system (F5 TreIL-7R rtTAhuCD2Il7r−/−, F5 TetIL-7R hereon, see Materials and Methods) 24. Induction of IL-7Rα expression, by feeding mice doxycycline (dox) throughout
life (F5 TetIL-7RON), overcomes the block in thymic development that normally occurs in Il7r−/− F5 mice and allows the generation of a normal peripheral compartment of Oxymatrine F5 T cells. In contrast to the high levels of IL-7Rα found in the thymus, peripheral T cells from dox-fed F5 TetIL-7R mice express much lower levels of IL-7Rα that are not functional in vivo 24. Nevertheless, we have previously shown that withdrawal of dox food from F5 TetIL-7R mice for three days (F5 TetIL-7ROFF) is sufficient to guarantee complete loss of residual IL-7Rα expression (referred to as IL-7R– F5 T cells hereon). Importantly, surface IL-7Rα protein is undetectable on IL-7R– F5 T cells and cells fail to phosphorylate STAT5 in response to IL-7 stimulation in vitro 2.