The anti-apoptotic BCL-2 family member Mcl-1 promotes T lymphocyte survival at multiple stages

Ivan Dzhagalov, Alexis Dunkle, You Wen He*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

120 Scopus citations


Tlymphocyte development and function are tightly regulated by the intrinsic death pathway through members of the Bcl-2 family. Genetic studies have demonstrated that the Bcl-2 family member Mcl-1 is an important anti-apoptotic protein in the development of multiple cell types including T lymphocytes. However, the expression pattern and anti-apoptotic roles of Mcl-1 in T lymphocytes at different developmental stages remain to be fully determined. In this study, we examined the expression pattern of Mcl-1 in different populations of T cells at the single-cell level and found that Mcl-1 protein is constitutively expressed in all T cell populations and up-regulated upon TCR stimulation. We then investigated the role of Mcl-1 in the survival of these different populations by conditionally deleting Mcl-1 at various T cell stages. Our results show that Mcl-1 is required for the survival of double-negative and single-positive thymocytes as well as naive and activated T cells. Furthermore, we demonstrate that Mcl-1 functions together with Bcl-xL to promote double-positive thymocyte survival. Thus, Mcl-1 is a critical anti-apoptotic factor for the survival of T cells at multiple stages in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-528
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2008


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