The role of MEKK3 in T cell homeostasis and IFNγ production

Xiaofang Wang, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


MEKK3, a member of the MAP3K family, is involved in regulating multiple MAPK and NF-κB pathways. The MAPK and NF-κB signaling pathways are important in regulating T cell functions. MEKK3 is expressed through the development of T cell and also in subsets of T cell in the peripheral. However, the specific role of MEKK3 in T cell function is unknown. To reveal the in vivo function of MEKK3 in T cells, I have generated MEKK3 T cell conditional knock-out mice. Despite a normal thymus development in the conditional knock-out mice, I observed a decrease in the number of peripheral T-cells and impaired T-cell function in response to antigen stimulation. T cells undergo homeostatic proliferation under lymphopenia condition, a process called lymphopenia-induced proliferation (LIP). Using a LIP model, I demonstrated that the reduction of peripheral T cell number is largely due to a severe impairment of the self-antigen/MHC mediated T cell homeostasis. Upon anti-CD3 stimulation, the proliferation of MEKK3-deficient T cell is not significantly affected, but the production of IFNγ by naïve and effector CD4 T cells are markedly decreased. Interestingly, the IL-12/IL-18 driven IFNγ production and MAPK activation in MEKK3-deficient T cells is not affected, suggesting that MEKK3 selectively mediates the TCR induced MAPK signaling. Furthermore, I found that MEKK3 is activated by TCR stimulation in a RAC1/2 dependent manner, but not by IL-12/IL-18 stimulation. Finally, I showed that basal level of ERK and JNK activation is defective under LIP condition. I showed that the TCR induced ERK, JNK and p38 MAPK activation is also defective in MEKK3 deficient CD4 T cells. Taken together, my data demonstrate a crucial role of MEKK3 in T cell homeostasis and IFNγ production through regulating the TCR mediated MAPK pathway.

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Recommended Citation

Wang, Xiaofang, "The role of MEKK3 in T cell homeostasis and IFNγ production" (2008). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3323573.