Notch1 activation by Delta-like (DL) Notch ligands is essential to induce T cell commitment and to suppress B cell development from thymus-seeding progenitors. Thymus-seeding progenitor competition for DL4 is critically regulated by Lunatic Fringe (Lfng), which glycosylates epidermal growth factor repeats in the Notch1 extracellular domain to enhance binding avidity for DL ligands. Notch1 activation is also essential for the process of β-selection, which drives TCRβ+ CD4/CD8 double-negative 3 (DN3) precursors to proliferate and generate a large pool of CD4/CD8 double-positive thymocytes. We have used several genetic approaches to determine the importance of Lfng-Notch1 interactions in regulating competition of preselection and postselection DN3 thymocytes for DL ligands in vivo. Surprisingly, although Lfng overexpression enhanced DL4 binding by preselection DN3a thymocytes, it did not confer them with a competitive advantage in mixed chimeras. In contrast, Lfng overexpression enhanced competition of post-β-selection DN3b precursors for DL ligands. Lfng modification of O-fucose in the Notch1 ligand-binding domain contributed to but was not solely responsible for the developmental effects of Lfng overexpression. Although previous studies have suggested that pre-TCR-deficient DN3 thymocytes compete poorly for DL ligands, Lfng overexpression did not fully restore double-positive thymocyte pools from DN3b cells with pre-TCR signaling defects. Thus, pre-TCR and Notch signaling have largely nonoverlapping functions in β-selection. Collectively, our data reveal that Lfng enhances DN3b precursor competition for intrathymic DL ligands to maximize Notch-induced clonal expansion during the earliest stage of β-selection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy