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Received March 28, 2007; Revision received October 11, 2007
The age dynamics of the content of the immune proteasome subunits LMP2 and LMP7 in rat thymus during prenatal and early postnatal ontogeny was studied. The LMP2 and LMP7 immune subunits were detected by Western blotting already by the 18th day of embryonic development, their amount increased to the 21st day to the level characteristic of the postnatal state. Double immunofluorescent labeling showed that in the thymus tissue the largest amount of LMP2 and LMP7 is localized in epithelial cells, whereas the level of their expression in thymocytes is lower. The results suggest that the establishment in thymus of selection processes, which depend on activity of immune proteasomes, can take place already in prenatal ontogeny. Analysis of age dynamics of the natural apoptosis level in thymocytes also favors this supposition. The presence of immune proteasomes in thymocytes during perinatal ontogeny suggests that, besides the antigen presentation, immunoproteasomes may possess other important functions.
KEY WORDS: immune subunits of proteasomes, thymus, ontogeny, negative selection, thymic epithelial cells, apoptosis, rat