• Cbx4 regulates the proliferation of thymic epithelial cells and thymus function.

      Liu, B.; Liu, Y.F.; Du, Y.R.; Mardaryev, Andrei N.; Yang, W.; Chen, H.; Xu, Z.M.; Xu, C.Q.; Zhang, X.R.; Botchkarev, Vladimir A.; et al. (2013)
      Thymic epithelial cells (TECs) are the main component of the thymic stroma, which supports T-cell proliferation and repertoire selection. Here, we demonstrate that Cbx4, a Polycomb protein that is highly expressed in the thymic epithelium, has an essential and non-redundant role in thymic organogenesis. Targeted disruption of Cbx4 causes severe hypoplasia of the fetal thymus as a result of reduced thymocyte proliferation. Cell-specific deletion of Cbx4 shows that the compromised thymopoiesis is rooted in a defective epithelial compartment. Cbx4-deficient TECs exhibit impaired proliferative capacity, and the limited thymic epithelial architecture quickly deteriorates in postnatal mutant mice, leading to an almost complete blockade of T-cell development shortly after birth and markedly reduced peripheral T-cell populations in adult mice. Furthermore, we show that Cbx4 physically interacts and functionally correlates with p63, which is a transcriptional regulator that is proposed to be important for the maintenance of the stemness of epithelial progenitors. Together, these data establish Cbx4 as a crucial regulator for the generation and maintenance of the thymic epithelium and, hence, for thymocyte development.