Transcriptomic analysis supports similar functional roles for the two thymuses of the tammar wallaby

Wong, Emily S.W., Papenfuss, Anthony T., Heger, Andreas, Hsu, Arthur L., Ponting, Chris P., Miller, Robert D., Fenelon, Jane C., Renfree, Marilyn B., Gibbs, Richard A. and Belov, Katherine (2011) Transcriptomic analysis supports similar functional roles for the two thymuses of the tammar wallaby. BMC Genomics, 12 420-1-420-12. doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-420

Author Wong, Emily S.W.
Papenfuss, Anthony T.
Heger, Andreas
Hsu, Arthur L.
Ponting, Chris P.
Miller, Robert D.
Fenelon, Jane C.
Renfree, Marilyn B.
Gibbs, Richard A.
Belov, Katherine
Title Transcriptomic analysis supports similar functional roles for the two thymuses of the tammar wallaby
Journal name BMC Genomics   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1471-2164
Publication date 2011-08
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1186/1471-2164-12-420
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 12
Start page 420-1
End page 420-12
Total pages 12
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher BioMed Central
Collection year 2012
Language eng
Formatted abstract
The thymus plays a critical role in the development and maturation of T-cells. Humans have a single thoracic thymus and presence of a second thymus is considered an anomaly. However, many vertebrates have multiple thymuses. The tammar wallaby has two thymuses: a thoracic thymus (typically found in all mammals) and a dominant cervical thymus. Researchers have known about the presence of the two wallaby thymuses since the 1800s, but no genome-wide research has been carried out into possible functional differences between the two thymic tissues. Here, we used pyrosequencing to compare the transcriptomes of a cervical and thoracic thymus from a single 178 day old tammar wallaby.

We show that both the tammar thoracic and the cervical thymuses displayed gene expression profiles consistent with roles in T-cell development. Both thymuses expressed genes that mediate distinct phases of T-cells differentiation, including the initial commitment of blood stem cells to the T-lineage, the generation of T-cell receptor diversity and development of thymic epithelial cells. Crucial immune genes, such as chemokines were also present. Comparable patterns of expression of non-coding RNAs were seen. 67 genes differentially expressed between the two thymuses were detected, and the possible significance of these results are discussed.

This is the first study comparing the transcriptomes of two thymuses from a single individual. Our finding supports that both thymuses are functionally equivalent and drive T-cell development. These results are an important first step in the understanding of the genetic processes that govern marsupial immunity, and also allow us to begin to trace the evolution of the mammalian immune system.
Keyword T-cell development
Dependent protein-kinase
Human genome
Myoid cells
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ
Additional Notes Article number 420, pp. 1-12

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Non HERDC
Institute for Molecular Bioscience - Publications
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Created: Thu, 08 Mar 2012, 15:39:28 EST by Susan Allen on behalf of Institute for Molecular Bioscience