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Analysis of a transcriptional network involving PU.1, Notch, and Gata3 in the lymphomyeloid lineage decision during early T-cell development

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  • Biology
  • Mathematics


Hematopoiesis is a well-established system used to study developmental choices amongst cells with multiple lineage potentials, as well as the transcription factor network interactions that drive these developmental paths. Multipotent progenitors travel from the bone marrow to the thymus where T-cell development is initiated and these early T-cell precursors retain lineage plasticity even after initiating a T-cell program. The development of these early cells is driven by Notch signaling and the combinatorial expression of many transcription factors, several of which are also involved in the development of other cell lineages. The ETS family transcription factor PU.1 is involved in the development of progenitor, myeloid, and lymphoid cells, and can divert progenitor T-cells from the T-lineage to a myeloid lineage. This diversion of early T-cells by PU.1 can be blocked by Notch signaling. The PU.1 and Notch interaction creates a switch wherein PU.1 in the presence of Notch promotes T-cell identity and PU.1 in the absence of Notch signaling promotes a myeloid identity. Here we characterized an early T-cell cell line, Scid.adh.2c2, as a good model system for studying the myeloid vs. lymphoid developmental choice dependent on PU.1 and Notch signaling. We then used the Scid.adh.2c2 system to identify mechanisms mediating PU.1 and Notch signaling interactions during early T-cell development. We show that the mechanism by which Notch signaling is protecting pro-T cells is neither degradation nor modification of the PU.1 protein. Instead we give evidence that Notch signaling is blocking the PU.1-driven inhibition of a key set of T-regulatory genes including Myb, Tcf7, and Gata3. We show that the protection of Gata3 from PU.1-mediated inhibition, by Notch signaling and Myb, is important for retaining a T-lineage identity. We also discuss a PU.1-driven mechanism involving E-protein inhibition that leads to the inhibition of Notch target genes. This is mechanism may be used as a lockdown mechanism in pro-T-cells that have made the decision to divert to the myeloid pathway.

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