Previously we described activating mutations of hbetac, the common signaling subunit of the receptors for the hematopoietic and inflammatory cytokines, GM-CSF, IL-3, and IL-5. The activated mutant, hbetacFIDelta, is able to confer growth factor-independent proliferation on the murine myeloid cell line FDC-P1, and on primary committed myeloid progenitors. We have used this activating mutation to study the effects of chronic cytokine receptor stimulation. Transgenic mice were produced carrying the hbetacFIDelta cDNA linked to the constitutive promoter derived from the phosphoglycerate kinase gene, PGK-1. Transgene expression was demonstrated in several tissues and functional activity of the mutant receptor was confirmed in hematopoietic tissues by the presence of granulocyte macrophage and macrophage colony-forming cells (CFU-GM and CFU-M) in the absence of added cytokines. All transgenic mice display a myeloproliferative disorder characterized by splenomegaly, erythrocytosis, and granulocytic and megakaryocytic hyperplasia. This disorder resembles the human disease polycythemia vera, suggesting that activating mutations in hbetac may play a role in the pathogenesis of this myeloproliferative disorder. In addition, these transgenic mice develop a sporadic, progressive neurological disease and display bilateral, symmetrical foci of necrosis in the white matter of brain stem associated with an accumulation of macrophages. Thus, chronic hbetac activation has the potential to contribute to pathological events in the central nervous system.
R J D'Andrea, D Harrison-Findik, C M Butcher, J Finnie, P Blumbergs, P Bartley, M McCormack, K Jones, R Rowland, T J Gonda, M A Vadas