Mice with the autosomal recessive gene "wasted" (wst/wst) exhibit neurologic disorders, reduced mucosal immune responses, and abnormal DNA repair mechanisms. The wst/wst mouse has been proposed as a murine model for the human disorder ataxia telangiectasia. Experiments were designed to examine the sensitivity of T-cells from wasted mice to ionizing radiation. Results demonstrated that T-cell clones derived from wasted mice are more sensitive to the killing effects of γ-rays than similar T-cell clones from control mice. Bulk thymocyte and splenic cell cultures demonstrated a similar radiation sensitivity. Both thymic and splenic lymphocytes from wasted mice also expressed low proliferative responses to mitogenic stimulation with concanavalin A (Con A) that could not be attributed to an absence or reduction in T-cell number. However, following activation with Con A, cell cultures exhibited a marked decrease in the percentage of Thy1+ cells in wasted mice, in contrast to cultures from control mice in which significant increases in Thy1+ cells were observed. Furthermore, when cells were treated with γ-rays in combination with Con A, Thy1+ cells were decreased in control spleen and thymus, but were elevated in similarly treated wasted cultures. These changes were accompanied by an increase in cell volume in T-cells from wasted but not from control mice. These results describe the sensitivity of T-cells from wasted mice to ionizing radiation; in addition, they suggest that the wst/wst abnormality may be associated with cell cycle aberrancies.
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