Pre-TCR signals regulate the transition of the doable-negative (DN) 3 thymocytes to the DN4, and subsequently to the double-positive (DP) stage. In this study, we show that pre-TCR signals activate Akt and that pharmacological inhibition of the PDK/Akt pathway, or combined ablation of Akt1 and Akt2, and to a lesser extent Akt1 and Akt3, interfere with the differentiation of DN3 and the accumulation of DP thymocytes. Combined ablation of Akt1 and Akt2 inhibits the proliferation of DN4 cells, while combined ablation of all Akt isoforms also inhibits the survival of all the DN thymocytes. Finally, the combined ablation of Aktl and Akt2 inhibits the survival of DP thymocytes. Constitutively active Lck-Akt1 transgenes had the opposite effects. We conclude that, following their activation by pre-TCR signals, Akt1, Akt2, and, to a lesser extent, Akt3 promote the transition of DN thymocytes to the DP stage, in part by enhancing the proliferation and survival of cells undergoing β-selection. Akt1 and Akt2 also contribute to the differentiation process by promoting the survival of the DP thymocytes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy