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Immunity. 1999 May;10(5):559-68.

Designing and maintaining the mature TCR repertoire: the continuum of self-peptide:self-MHC complex recognition.

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Section of Immunobiology, Yale University School of Medicine and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8011, USA.


Peripheral T cell maintenance requires a survival signal delivered upon T cell receptor (TCR)-major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecule interaction. Since self-peptides play a critical role in the intrathymic positive selection of the mature TCR repertoire, we hypothesized an equally important role in T cell persistence. We used mice with a normal expression of MHC class II molecules but a restricted self-peptide complexity (H-2M alpha-/-) to show that an MHC class II-restricted T cell specificity that displays a deficient positive selection in the H-2M alpha-/- thymus shows an impaired persistence after adoptive transfer in H-2M alpha-/- recipients. Finally, a wild-type CD4+ TCR repertoire is incompletely maintained in H-2M alpha-/- recipients. These observations suggest that, similar to intrathymic positive selection, the maintenance of the mature TCR repertoire relies on the recognition of self-peptide:self-MHC complexes.

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