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Immunoproteasomes Control the Homeostasis of Medullary Thymic Epithelial Cells by Alleviating Proteotoxic Stress.

St-Pierre C, Morgand E, Benhammadi M, Rouette A, Hardy MP, Gaboury L, Perreault C

Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer, Université de Montréal, Montreal, QC H3C 3J7, Canada; Department of Medicine, Université de Montréal, Montreal, QC H3C 3J7, Canada.

The sole nonredundant role of the thymic medulla is to induce central tolerance, a vital process that depends on promiscuous gene expression (pGE), a unique feature of medullary thymic epithelial cells (mTECs). Although pGE enhances transcription of >3,000 genes in mTECs, its impact on the regulation of protein homeostasis remains unexplored. Here, we report that, because of pGE, mature mTECs synthesize substantially more proteins than other cell types and are exquisitely sensitive to loss of immunoproteasomes (IPs). Indeed, IP deficiency causes proteotoxic stress in mTECs and leads to exhaustion of postnatal mTEC progenitors. Moreover, IP-deficient mice show accelerated thymic involution, which is characterized by a selective loss of mTECs and multiorgan autoimmune manifestations. We conclude that pGE, the quintessential feature of mTECs, is a major burden for the maintenance of proteostasis, which is alleviated by the constitutive expression of IPs in mTECs.

Cell Rep 2017;21(9):2558-2570.

Pubmed ID: 29186691

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