Intrathymic proliferation wave essential for Vα14+ natural killer T cell development depends on c-Myc

Academic Article


  • The molecular requirements for invariant Vα14-bearing natural killer T cells (iNKT) in the thymus are poorly understood. A minute population of ≈500 newly selected CD69+CD24+ stage 0 (ST0) iNKT cells gives rise to ≈100 times more CD44neg/loCD24- stage 1 (ST1) cells, which then generate similar frequencies of CD44 hiCD24- stage 2 (ST2) and mature iNKT cells. Although the increased number of ST1 compared with ST0 cells indicates the initiation of a proliferation wave in the very early stages of iNKT cell development, details about the controlling mechanism are currently lacking. Here, we show that the transcription factor c-Myc is required for iNKT cell development. Conditional ablation of c-Myc in double-positive thymocytes specifically impacted iNKT but not conventional T cell development. Within the iNKT population, a progressive reduction of iNKT cells was observed starting at ST1 (≈50-fold) and ST2 (≈350-fold), with a complete lack of mature cells in thymus, spleen, and liver. ST0/ST1 c-Myc-deficient iNKT cells showed reduced proliferation. In contrast, annexin V staining did not reveal increased apoptosis, and transgenic overexpression of BCL-2 did not rescue iNKT cell development in c-Myc-deficient mice. Moreover, expression of known iNKT differentiation factors such as Plzf and Gata3 was not dramatically altered. These, findings provide compelling evidence that c-Myc mediates an intrathymic proliferation wave immediately after agonist selection of iNKT cells and illustrate the importance of this expansion for the generation of mature iNKT cells in vivo.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Dose M; Sleckman BP; Han J; Bredemeyer AL; Bendelac A; Gounari F
  • Start Page

  • 8641
  • End Page

  • 8646
  • Volume

  • 106
  • Issue

  • 21