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Immunology. 2000 Apr;99(4):489-97.

Forced expression of terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase in fetal thymus resulted in a decrease in gammadelta T cells and random dissemination of Vgamma3Vdelta1 T cells in skin of newborn but not adult mice.

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  • 1The Department of Molecular Medicine, Osaka University Medical School, Osaka, Japan.


The repertoire of lymphocyte receptor genes encoded in a germline is further diversified by a number of processes, including the template-independent addition of nucleotides (N regions) by means of terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT). Normally, mouse gammadelta T cells in the early fetal thymus, whose T-cell receptor (TCR) genes lack N regions and are encoded by Vgamma3-Jgamma1 and Vdelta1-Ddelta2-Jdelta2 with canonical junctions (invariant Vgamma3Vdelta1), are thought to be the precursors of dendritic epidermal T cells (DETC). We generated mutant mice whose endogenous TdT promoter was replaced with the lck promoter through homologous recombination. These mutant mice expressed TdT in fetal thymus, had abundant N regions and infrequent canonical junctions in gamma and delta rearrangements, and showed a decreased number of gammadelta T cells. Various Vgamma3Vdelta1 T cells, most of which had N regions in their TCR genes, were found to disseminate in the skin of newborn mutant mice, whereas normal numbers of DETCs with the invariant Vgamma3Vdelta1 rearrangement were observed in adult mutants. These data demonstrate that the regulation of TdT expression during fetal development is important for the generation of gammadelta T cells, and that Vgamma3Vdelta1 T cells, which have various junctional sequences in their TCR genes, randomly disseminate in skin, but invariant Vgamma3Vdelta1 T cells have a great advantage for proliferation in skin.

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