Inosine 5′-monophosphate dehydrogenase (IMPDH) is the rate-limiting enzyme in the de novo synthesis of guanine nucleotides, which are also synthesized from guanine by a salvage reaction catalyzed by the X chromosome–linked enzyme hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT). Since inhibitors of IMPDH are in clinical use as immunosuppressive agents, we have examined the consequences of knocking out the IMPDH type II enzyme by gene targeting in a mouse model. Loss of both alleles of the gene encoding this enzyme results in very early embryonic lethality despite the presence of IMPDH type I and HPRT activities. Lymphocytes from IMPDH II+/– heterozygous mice are normal with respect to subpopulation distribution and respond normally to a variety of mitogenic stimuli. However, mice with an IMPDH II+/–, HPRT–/o genotype demonstrate significantly decreased lymphocyte responsiveness to stimulation with anti-CD3 and anti-CD28 antibodies and show a 30% mean reduction in GTP levels in lymphocytes activated by these antibodies. Furthermore, the cytolytic activity of their T cells against allogeneic target cells is significantly impaired. These results demonstrate that a moderate decrease in the ability of murine lymphocytes to synthesize guanine nucleotides during stimulation results in significant impairment in T-cell activation and function.
Jing Jin Gu, Sander Stegmann, Karen Gathy, Robert Murray, Josee Laliberte, Lanier Ayscue, Beverly S. Mitchell