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EMBO J. Nov 1989; 8(11): 3261–3270.
PMCID: PMC401453

Excision products of the T cell receptor gene support a progressive rearrangement model of the alpha/delta locus.


We have cloned extrachromosomal circular DNAs containing T cell receptor (TCR) delta gene segments in adult mouse thymocytes and splenocytes. We find that the frequency of circular DNA clones carrying germline delta sequences is lower than that of J alpha probe-positive clones, possibly related to increasing 5' distance from the most upstream J alpha segment. This suggests that the TCR alpha/delta locus is successively rearranged from within and that the delta-containing excision products are progressively diluted out by the subsequent cell division which includes further alpha gene rearrangements. In addition, examination of delta gene excision products revealed newly identified V delta subfamilies, the reciprocal joining of two D delta elements, J delta 2 usage in thymocytes and novel sequences homologous to the human delta-gene deleting elements.

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