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Immunogenetics. 1998;47(2):107-14.

Molecular analysis of skewed Tcra-V gene use in T-cell receptor beta-chain transgenic mice.

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  • 1University of Rochester Cancer Center and the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.


The influence of beta-chain diversity on the expressed T-cell receptor (TCR) alpha-chain repertoire was investigated using transgenic mice which exclusively express a single rearranged TCR beta-chain gene. Analysis of these mice using alpha-chain-specific recombinant cDNA libraries showed that expression of the transgene-encoded beta chain results in significant skewing in Tcra-V gene segment usage vs nontransgenic mice. Skewing was most pronounced towards alpha chains using TCRA-V segments. Sequence analysis of Tcra-V8-containing genes from transgenic T cells revealed predominant use of a single Tcra-J segment (Tcra-J24), which was not detected in Tcra-V8 containing genes isolated from nontransgenic T cells. Further analysis revealed that co-expression of Tcra-V8 with Tcra-J24 in beta-transgenic mice is exhibited almost exclusively by CD4+ T cells, and is associated with a limited number of closely related N-regions. Analysis of transgenic CD8+ T cells demonstrated predominant co-expression of Tcra-V8 with another Tcra-J (Tcra-J30), together with a different, limited N-region sequence. We conclude that the composition of expressed beta chains can profoundly influence the selection of companion alpha chains expressed in the periphery, and that alpha-chain N and J regions play a crucial role in discriminating between class I vs class II major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-restricted recognition. Further, these results are in agreement with recent data concerning the crystal structure of the TCR, and most consistent with a model for TCR structure in which the complementarity determining region (CDR)3alpha domain participates in direct contact with the MHC.

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