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Open Access Research article

The effect of conditional EFNB1 deletion in the T cell compartment on T cell development and function

Wei Jin, Shijie Qi and Hongyu Luo*

Author Affiliations

From the Laboratory of Immunology Centre de recherche de Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CRCHUM), Notre-Dame Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

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BMC Immunology 2011, 12:68  doi:10.1186/1471-2172-12-68

Published: 19 December 2011

Abstract

Background

Eph kinases are the largest family of cell surface receptor tyrosine kinases. The ligands of Ephs, ephrins (EFNs), are also cell surface molecules. Ephs interact with EFNs transmitting signals in both directions, i.e., from Ephs to EFNs and from EFNs to Ephs. EFNB1 is known to be able to co-stimulate T cells in vitro and to modulate thymocyte development in a model of foetal thymus organ culture. To further understand the role of EFNB1 in T cell immunity, we generated T-cell-specific EFNB1 gene knockout mice to assess T cell development and function in these mice.

Results

The mice were of normal size and cellularity in the thymus and spleen and had normal T cell subpopulations in these organs. The bone marrow progenitors from KO mice and WT control mice repopulated host spleen T cell pool to similar extents. The activation and proliferation of KO T cells was comparable to that of control mice. Naïve KO CD4 cells showed an ability to differentiate into Th1, Th2, Th17 and Treg cells similar to control CD4 cells.

Conclusions

Our results suggest that the function of EFNB1 in the T cell compartment could be compensated by other members of the EFN family, and that such redundancy safeguards the pivotal roles of EFNB1 in T cell development and function.