Transcription factor Lyl-1 critical in producing early T-cell progenitors

July 8, 2012

A transcription factor called Lyl-1 is necessary for production of the earliest cells that can become T-cells, critical cells born in the thymus that coordinate the immune response to cancer or infections, said a consortium of researchers led by those from Baylor College of Medicine in a report in the journal Nature Immunology.

These earliest progenitors (called early T lineage ) are the first cells that can be identified as being on the road to becoming T-cells, said Dr. Margaret Goodell, director of the and Regenerative Medicine Center of Baylor College of Medicine. Without Lyl-1, only a few of these early T lineage progenitor cells get made.

"This finding gives us insight into the biology of these progenitor cells," said Goodell, a professor of pediatrics at BCM and a member of the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at BCM, Texas Children's Hospital and The Methodist Hospital.

Dr. Fabian Zohren, a post-doctoral student in Goodell's laboratory, found that mice lacking the gene for this factor had a T-cell deficiency and in particular, too few of these early progenitor cells.

"It showed that those early T lineage progenitor cells are really dependent on Lyl-1 for their generation," said Goodell, who is also corresponding author of the report. "We think that Lyl-1 controls a program that allows survival and expansion of these critical progenitors."

The finding may have particular import in understanding a form of leukemia known as T-cell . The researchers found that the forms of the disease that have the worst prognosis are those in which the resemble these early T lineage progenitor cells. These cells also have high levels of Lyl-1.

One possibility is the T-cell progenitors in patients with this type of T-cell leukemia continue to express Lyl-1, so continue to be programmed to expand. The excess Lyl-1 prevents the early T lineage progenitor cells from differentiating into active T-cells. Goodell said a recent grant from the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation will help test that hypothesis.

Explore further: Penn researchers describe key molecule that keeps immune cell development on track

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Immune system link to kidney disease risk, research finds

June 29, 2016

A gene which forms part of our body's first line of defence against infection may be associated with an increased risk with a type of kidney disease, research involving academics at The University of Nottingham has discovered.

Viral protein silences immune alarm signals

June 29, 2016

Viruses must avoid a host's immune system to establish successful infections—and scientists have discovered another tool that viruses use to frustrate host defenses. Researchers from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia ...

Receptor suppresses the immune response in order to save it

June 29, 2016

When viruses enter the body, they activate receptors on the surface of cells that allow viruses to invade those cells. A Yale-led team has found that one of the receptors, known as AXL, actually plays an essential role in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.