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Eur J Immunol. 2009 Dec;39(12):3301-6. doi: 10.1002/eji.200939709.

Thymocyte deletion can bias Treg formation toward low-abundance self-peptide.

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


Autoreactive CD4+ T cells can undergo deletion and/or become CD25+Foxp3+ Treg as they develop intrathymically, but how these alternative developmental fates are specified based on interactions with self-peptide(s) is not understood. We show here that thymocytes expressing an autoreactive TCR can be subjected to varying degrees of deletion that correlate with the amount of self-peptide. Strikingly, among thymocytes that evade deletion, similar proportions acquire Foxp3 expression. These findings provide evidence that Foxp3+ Treg can develop among members of a cohort of autoreactive thymocytes that have evaded deletion by a self-peptide, and that deletion and Treg formation can act together to bias the Treg repertoire toward low-abundance self-peptide(s).

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