Elevated C-met in Thymic Dendritic Cells of New Zealand Black Mice
New Zealand Black (NZB) mice are a well-known animal model of human autoimmune disease. Although the mechanism for development of autoimmunity is unclear, NZB mice are well known for severe thymic microarchitecture abnormalities. It is thought that thymic dendritic cells (DC) may play a role in thymic education and contribute to the autoimmune process. To address this issue and, in particular, that qualitative and/or quantitative differences exist in thymic DC, we took advantage of a novel restriction analysis system that allow definition of differences in the expression of tyrosine kinases using highly enriched populations of thymic DC from NZB compared to BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice. The method chosen, restriction analysis of gene expression, allowed the determination of protein tyrosine kinase transcription profiles. We report herein that NZB mice have a significant upregulation of C-met compared to the control strains. The abnormality of the C-met transcription was confined to thymic DC. We believe that its abnormal expression reflects the resistance of thymic cells to apoptosis, which will ultimately lead to defects and/or abnormal signaling by the interaction of thymic DC and thymocytes. Further studies involving such interactions are under way.