Expression of HOXC4 homeoprotein in the nucleus of activated human lymphocytes

R. Meazza, A. Faiella, M. T. Corsetti, I. Airoldi, S. Ferrini, E. Boncinelli, G. Corte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have analyzed the expression of homeoproteins of the HOX family in resting and activated lymphoid cells and in neoplastic lymphoid cell lines by the use of monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs) already shown to react with the homeoproteins HOXA10, HOXC6, and HOXD4, respectively. Anti-HOXA10 and C6 MoAbs DIDi not show any reactivity with the lymphoid cells tested, whereas anti-HOXD4 MoAb stained few resting peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs) and most phytohemagglutinin (PHA)-stimulated PBLs as early as 6 hours after stimulation. The pattern of staining of PHA-activated PBLs is reminiscent of the stages of nucleolar fragmentation in different phases of the cell cycle. The MoAb reacted also with activated or Epstein-Barr virus-transformed B cells, with clonal or polyclonal T and natural killer (NK) cells, with leukemic T-cell lines, and with a Burkitt's lymphoma cell line. RNAse protection experiments, per formed with probes specific for HOXD4 or for the highly homologous HOXA4, HOXB4, and HOXC4, belonging to the same paralogy group, indicated that only HOXC4 mRNA is present in resting or activated PBLs. Northern blot analysis on polyA+ RNA from activated PBLs or Raji cells showed the presence of two different HOXC4 transcripts of 2.8 and 1.9 kb. Gel retardation and Southwestern blot assays showed the presence of a 32-kD homeoprotein with DNA-binding properties typical of a HOX4 homeoprotein in nucleolar extracts of PHA-activated, but not of resting, lymphocytes. Taken together, these data indicate that the HOXC4 homeoprotein is expressed in activated and/or proliferating lymphocytes of the T-, B-, or NK-cell lineage, whereas it is weakly expressed in a minority of resting cells. The early expression and the nucleolar localization suggest an involvement of HOXC4 in the regulation of genes controlling lymphocyte activation and/or proliferation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2084-2090
Number of pages7
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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