Developmentally regulated and tissue specific expression of mRNAs encoding the two alternative forms of the LIM domain oncogene rhombotin: evidence for thymus expression.
Boehm T., Spillantini MG., Sofroniew MV., Surani MA., Rabbitts TH.
The T-cell oncogene rhombotin was first identified as a gene near a chromosomal translocation breakpoint in a human T-cell tumour and represents the first example of an oncogene carrying the duplicated cysteine-rich regions (CRR or LIM domains). Transgenic expression of a reporter gene under the control of one of the rhombotin gene promoters subsequently showed high levels of expression in the developing brain. These disparate sites of transcriptional activity suggested that the gene may have been activated de novo specifically in the T cell tumour via the translocation. Here, we assess this possibility by analysing rhombotin gene expression in mouse development by in situ hybridization of whole embryos, Northern filter hybridization, and a sensitive semiquantitative PCR method. The results show that the central nervous system is the major site of rhombotin mRNA production. Low level expression does, however, occur in other tissues including thymus. Furthermore, both promoters are active and differentially regulated during mouse embryogenesis in both brain and thymus. In subregions of the adult brain, different levels of rhombotin activity can be observed, with evidence for regional variation in promoter usage. A detailed analysis of mouse and human T-cell differentiation suggests that fluctuating promoter activities are related to a general T-cell differentiation process rather than to the differentiation of functionally distinct subsets of T-cells. These data suggest that the transforming activity of rhombotin in the T-cell with the chromosomal translocation was not due to de novo transcriptional activation, but rather to a quantitative or qualitative change in expression levels of this CRR-containing oncogene after chromosomal translocation.