The interleukin-2 (IL-2) receptor gamma chain is indispensable for IL-2- , IL-4-, IL-7-, IL-9-, and IL-15-mediated signaling. Mutations of the human gamma chain cause the X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency (XSCID), showing that T and natural killer cells absolutely require the gamma chain for their development in humans. To elucidate the roles of the gamma chain in hematopoiesis, we have generated mice, by gene targeting, that express a form of the gamma chain lacking the cytoplasmic region. Male mice carrying the truncated gamma-chain mutant, which mimics mutations in patients with XSCID, showed a decrease in the number of lymphocytes and an increase in monocytes; the number of T cells was profoundly reduced and no natural killer cells were detected, which is similar to the characteristic of human XSCID. Unlike human XSCID, the levels of B cells were also reduced. In spite of the severe decrease in CD45R+/sIgM+ B cells, the level of IgM in serum of the 8-week-old mutant mice was higher than that of control littermates. Interestingly, the stem cell population with surface phenotypes of CD34, c-kit, and Sca-1 was significantly increased. Furthermore, the colony-forming assay showed that the mutant mice had 15-fold higher numbers of hematopoietic progenitor cells in the spleen as compared with that of controls. These results indicate that functional loss of the gamma chain causes significant effects on the immunological system in mice.

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