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Semin Immunol. 1999 Aug;11(4):251-62.

Control of early thymocyte development by the pre-T cell receptor complex: A receptor without a ligand?

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Division of Basic Sciences, Immunobiology Working Group, Fox Chase Cancer Center, 7701 Burholme Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19111, USA.


Beta-selection refers to a developmental checkpoint linking thymocyte survival to the outcome of antigen receptor gene rearrangement. Immature thymocytes that productively rear-range the gene segments of the TCRbeta locus undergo proliferative expansion and mature to the CD4(+)CD8(+)stage; those failing to do so die by apoptosis. How are these precursor cells alerted that TCRbeta rearrangement has been productive? While it is clear that this process involves signals transduced by a surrogate form of the TCR termed the pre-TCR, it remains unclear how pre-TCR signals are triggered. In this review, we will discuss the implications of recent experimental attempts to address this issue, as well as how pre-TCR activation is linked to the changes in gene expression that underlie thymocyte development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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