In a previous report, we described the effects of cyclin D1 expression in epithelial tissues of transgenic mice. To study the involvement of D-type cyclins (D1, D2, and D3) in epithelial growth and differentiation and their putative role as oncogenes in skin, transgenic mice were developed which carry cyclin D2 or D3 genes driven by a keratin 5 promoter. As expected, both transgenic lines showed expression of these proteins in most of the squamous tissues analyzed. Epidermal proliferation increased in transgenic animals and basal cell hyperplasia was observed. All of the animals also had a minor thickening of the epidermis. The pattern of expression of keratin 1 and keratin 5 indicated that epidermal differentiation was not affected. Transgenic K5D2 mice developed mild thymic hyperplasia that reversed at 4 months of age. On the other hand, high expression of cyclin D3 in the thymus did not produce hyperplasia. This model provides in vivo evidence of the action of cyclin D2 and cyclin D3 as mediators of proliferation in squamous epithelial cells. A direct comparison among the three D-type cyclin transgenic mice suggests that cyclin D1 and cyclin D2 have similar roles in epithelial thymus cells. However, overexpression of each D-type cyclin produces a distinct phenotype in thymic epithelial cells.
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