Polycomb group gene Bmi1 plays an essential role in HSCs and the BM microenvironment. Recent reports also pointed to the importance of Bmi1 in thymocyte development. However, little is known about its role in the development of the thymic microenvironment. Here, we examined the function of Bmi1 in thymic epithelial cells (TECs) by using the engraftment of fetal thymus (FT) lobes under the kidney capsule. The engrafted Bmi1-/- FT lobes were clearly smaller and the number of thymocytes in these lobes was significantly decreased compared with control FT lobes. Analysis of the cell cycle status of TECs in the reconstituted lobes revealed that the reduction of thymus size in Bmi1-/- FT grafts was caused by less proliferation of TECs during the early expansion stage. Unlike cases with hematopoietic stem cells or thymocytes, the deletion of p16Ink4a and p19Arf could not restore the defects in Bmi1-/- TEC, indicating a distinct role for Bmi1 in TECs. In conclusion, epigenetic regulator polycomb group gene Bmi1 plays a role in the thymic microenvironment in a regeneration process by supporting TEC growth, and thereby contributes to the control of thymus size for T-cell growth in mice.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy