IL-7Rα deficiency in p53 null mice exacerbates thymocyte telomere erosion and lymphomagenesis

R. Kibe, S. Zhang, D. Guo, L. Marrero, F. Tsien, P. Rodriguez, S. Khan, A. Zieske, J. Huang, W. Li, S. K. Durum, T. Iwakuma, Y. Cui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Interleukin-7 (IL-7) is an essential T-cell survival cytokine. IL-7 receptor (IL-7Rα) deficiency severely impairs T-cell development due to substantial apoptosis. We hypothesized that IL-7Rα null-induced apoptosis is partially contributed by an elevated p53 activity. To investigate the genetic association of IL-7/IL-7Rα signaling with the p53 pathway, we generated IL-7Rα nullp53 null (DKO) mice. DKO mice exhibited a marked reduction of apoptosis in developing T cells and an augmented thymic lymphomagenesis with telomere erosions and exacerbated chromosomal anomalies, including chromosome duplications, breaks, and translocations. In particular, Robertsonian translocations, in which telocentric chromosomes fuse at the centromeric region, and a complete loss of telomeres at the fusion site occurred frequently in DKO thymic lymphomas. Cellular and molecular investigations revealed that IL-7/IL-7Rα signaling withdrawal diminished the protein synthesis of protection of telomere 1 (POT1), a subunit of telomere protective complex shelterin, leading to telomere erosion and the activation of the p53 pathway. Blockade of IL-7/IL-7Rα signaling in IL-7-dependent p53 null cells reduced POT1 expression and caused telomere and chromosome abnormalities similar to those observed in DKO lymphomas. This study underscores a novel function of IL-7/IL-7Rα during T-cell development in regulating telomere integrity via POT1 expression and provides new insights into cytokinemediated survival signals and T-cell lymphomagenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1139-1151
Number of pages13
JournalCell death and differentiation
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • IL-7Rα
  • genomic instability
  • lymphomagenesis
  • p53
  • telomere dysfunction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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