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Immunity. 1999 Jun;10(6):723-33.

A developmental switch from TCR delta enhancer to TCR alpha enhancer function during thymocyte maturation.

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  • 1Department of Immunology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA.


V(D)J recombination and transcription within the TCR alpha/delta locus are regulated by three characterized cis-acting elements: the TCR delta enhancer (Edelta), TCR alpha enhancer (Ealpha), and T early alpha (TEA) promoter. Analysis of enhancer and promoter occupancy and function in developing thymocytes in vivo indicates Edelta and Ealpha to be developmental-stage-specific enhancers, with Edelta "on" and Ealpha "off" in double-negative III thymocytes and Edelta "off" and Ealpha "on" in double-positive thymocytes. Edelta downregulation reflects a loss of occupancy. Surprisingly, Ealpha and TEA are extensively occupied even prior to activation. TCR delta downregulation in double-positive thymocytes depends on two events, Edelta inactivation and removal of TCR delta from the influence of Ealpha by chromosomal excision.

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