Conversely, they found that deletion of the Wnt4 gene and lack of the corresponding protein was associated with a decrease in the number of T cell progenitors in the thymus.
After showing that Wnt4 could stimulate thymopoiesis, the name given to the production of T cells in the thymus, Dr. Perreault and his team sought to understand the mode of action of the protein. Isabelle Louis, a graduate student, and Dr. Krista Heinonen, a postdoctoral fellow, analyzed the changes in gene activity triggered by exposure to
Wnt4. Results were conclusive: Wnt4 increases the number of T cell progenitors by inducing the expression of genes involved in cell survival. IRIC researchers also showed that Wnt4 does not mediate these changes in gene expression through the intracellular pathway normally activated by members of the Wnt family, i.e. stabilization of a signalling protein called -catenin, but rather through an alternative pathway involving members of the JNK family of proteins. The IRIC team is now investigating ways to capitalize on its discovery to develop new therapeutic agents.
|Contact: Christian Lanctt|
University of Montreal