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Immunity. 1999 May;10(5):537-46.

Immature thymocytes employ distinct signaling pathways for allelic exclusion versus differentiation and expansion.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, The Children's Hospital, and The Center for Blood Research, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


T cell receptor (TCR) beta chain allelic exclusion occurs at the thymocyte CD4- 8- (double-negative, or DN) to CD4+ 8+ (double-positive, or DP) transition, concurrently with differentiation and cellular expansion, and is imposed by a negative feedback loop in which a product of the first rearranged TCRbeta allele arrests further recombination in the TCRbeta locus. All of the major events associated with the development of DP cells can be induced by the introduction of TCRbeta or activated Lck transgenes. Here, we present evidence that the signaling pathways that promote thymocyte differentiation and expansion of RAG-deficient DN cells but not those that suppress rearrangements of endogenous TCRbeta genes in normal DN cells are engaged by activated Ras. We propose that TCRbeta allelic exclusion is mediated by effector pathways downstream of Lck but independent of Ras.

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