RORγt limits the amount of the cytokine receptor γc through the prosurvival factor Bcl-x(L) in developing thymocytes

Science Signaling cover - August 28, Vol. 11, Issue 545, 2018

About the Cover: The cover image shows an electron micrograph of a double-positive thymocyte from an RORγt-deficient, Bcl-x(L) transgenic mouse

The cytokine receptor subunit γc provides critical signals for T cell survival and differentiation. We investigated the molecular mechanism that controls the cell surface abundance of γc during T cell development in the thymus. We found that the amount of γc was low on CD4+CD8+ double-positive (DP) thymocytes before their positive selection to become mature T cells. The transcription factor RORγt was abundant in immature DP thymocytes, and its loss resulted in an increase in the abundance of surface γc, specifically on preselection DP cells. Rather than directly repressing expression of the gene encoding γc, RORγt acted through the antiapoptotic protein Bcl-xL to reduce the abundance of surface γc, which resulted in decreased cytokine signaling and was associated with inhibition of cell metabolism and mitochondrial biogenesis. Accordingly, overexpression of Bcl-xL in RORγt-deficient thymocytes restored the amount of surface γc to that present on normal preselection DP cells. Together, these data highlight a previously unappreciated role for RORγt and Bcl-xL in limiting γc abundance at the cell surface and reveal a signaling circuit in which survival factors control cytokine signaling by limiting the abundance and surface distribution of a receptor subunit shared by several cytokines.

Experimental Immunology Branch

RORγt limits the amount of the cytokine receptor γc through the prosurvival factor Bcl-x(L) in developing thymocytes. Ligons DL, Hwang S, Waickman AT, Park JY, Luckey MA, Park JH. Sci Signal. 2018 Aug 28;11(545), pii: eaam8939. doi: 10.1126/scisignal.aam8939. 

Published Date: 
August, 2018