Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signalling regulates lymphopoiesis in bone marrow and thymus via the interaction of haemato-lymphoid progenitors with the stroma microenvironment. Despite increasing functional evidence for the role of BMP signalling in lymphopoiesis, little is known of the spatial distribution of BMP/BMP antagonists in the thymus and of how BMP signals exert specific functions in developing lymphocytes. We analysed expression of BMP/BMP antagonists in the thymus and bone marrow and determined the topology of BMP/BMP antagonist expression using lacZ reporter mice. Bmp4, Bmp7, Gremlin and Twisted gastrulation (Twsg1) are all expressed in the thymus and expression was clearly different for each gene investigated. Expression was seen both in cortical and medullary regions suggesting that BMP signals regulate all stages of T-cell development. Two genes in particular, Bmp7 and Twsg1, were dynamically expressed in developing T and B lymphocytes. Their conditional ablation in all haematopoietic cells surprisingly did not affect the steady state of B-cell and T-cell development. This indicates that both lymphoid cell-derived BMP7 and TWSG1 are dispensable for normal lymphopoiesis and that bone-marrow stroma-derived TWSG1 is responsible for the lymphoid defects observed in Twsg1 null mice. In summary our data demonstrate a complex network of lymphoid and stroma derived BMP signals involved in the orchestration of lymphopoiesis in both bone marrow and thymus.
- Bone morphogenetic protein
- LacZ reporter