, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 235-244
Date: 14 Oct 2011

Retinoids produced by macrophages engulfing apoptotic cells contribute to the appearance of transglutaminase 2 in apoptotic thymocytes

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Transglutaminase 2 (TG2) has been known for a long time to be associated with the in vivo apoptosis program of various cell types including T cells. Though the expression of the enzyme was strongly induced in mouse thymocytes following apoptosis induction in vivo, no significant induction of TG2 could be detected, when thymocytes were induced to die by the same stimuli in vitro indicating that signals arriving from the tissue environment are required for the in vivo induction of the enzyme in apoptotic thymocytes. Previous studies have shown that one of these signals is transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) which is released by macrophages engulfing apoptotic cells. Besides TGF-β, the TG2 promoter contains retinoic acid response elements as well. Here we show that in vitro retinoic acids, or TGF-β and retinoic acids together can significantly enhance the TG2 mRNA expression in dying thymocytes, and the apoptotic signal contributes to the TG2 induction. Inhibition of retinoic acid synthesis either by alcohol or retinaldehyde dehydrogenases significantly attenuates the in vivo induction of TG2 following apoptosis induction indicating that retinoids indeed might contribute in vivo to the apoptosis-related TG2 expression. What is more, the in vivo apoptosis induction in the thymus is accompanied by an enhanced retinoid-dependent transcriptional activity due to the enhanced retinoid synthesis by macrophages engulfing apoptotic cells. Our data reveal a new crosstalk between macrophages and apoptotic cells, in which apoptotic cell uptake-induced retinoid synthesis in macrophages enhances TG2 expression in the dying thymocytes.