Activation of the T cell receptor in leukemic T cell lines or T cell hybridomas causes growth inhibition. A similar growth inhibition is seen when protein kinase C is activated through addition of phorbol myristate acetate. This inhibition is due to an arrest of cell cycle progression in G1 combined with an induction of apoptosis. Here we have investigated the mechanism by which these stimuli induce inhibition of proliferation in Jurkat and H9 leukemic T cell lines. We show that expression of cyclin D3 is reduced by each of these stimuli, resulting in a concomitant reduction in cyclin D-associated kinase activity. This reduction in cyclin D3-expression is crucial to the observed G1 arrest, since ectopic expression of cyclin D3 can abrogate the G1 arrest seen with each of these stimuli. Moreover, ectopic expression of cyclin D3 also prevents the induction of programmed cell death by phorbol myristate acetate and T-cell receptor activation, leading us to conclude that cyclin D3 not only plays a crucial role in progression through the G1 phase, but is also involved in regulating apoptosis of T cells.
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