CD45 regulates apoptosis in peripheral T lymphocytes

Programmed cell death (apoptosis) is a key mechanism for regulating lymphocyte numbers. Murine lymph node lymphocytes cultured in vitro without added stimuli show significant levels of apoptosis over 24 h, detectable by staining with Annexin V. CD4 and CD8 T lymphocytes from transgenic (Tg) mice expressing single CD45RABC or CD45RO isoforms show increased apoptosis and the extent of apoptosis is inversely correlated with the level of CD45 expression. CD45 Tg cells exhibit phosphatidyl serine translocation and DNA oligonucleosome formation, and can be partially rescued from apoptosis by culture in caspase inhibitors or common gamma-chain-binding cytokines. We conclude that CD45 is an important regulator of spontaneous apoptosis in T lymphocytes and this mechanism may contribute to the disease associations reported for individuals expressing CD45 variant alleles.

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