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J Immunol. 2000 Nov 1;165(9):4870-6.

Graded deletion and virus-induced activation of autoreactive CD4+ T cells.

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  • 1The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


We have examined factors governing the negative selection of autoreactive CD4(+) T cells in transgenic mice expressing low (HA12 mice) vs. high (HA104 mice) amounts of the influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA). When mated with TS1 mice that express a transgenic TCR specific for the I-Ed-restricted determinant site 1 (S1) of HA, thymocytes expressing high levels of the clonotypic TCR were deleted in both HA-transgenic lineages. However, through allelic inclusion, thymocytes with lower levels of the clonotypic TCR evaded deletion in TS1 x HA12 and TS1 x HA104 mice to graded degrees. Moreover, in both lineages, peripheral CD4(+) T cells could be activated by the S1 peptide in vitro, and by influenza virus in vivo. These findings indicate that allelic inclusion can allow autoreactive CD4(+) thymocytes to evade thymic deletion to varying extents reflecting variation in the expression of the self peptide, and can provide a basis for the activation of autoreactive peripheral T cells by viruses bearing homologues of self peptides ("molecular mimicry").

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