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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1999 Sep 16;263(1):172-80.

Dominant and shared T cell receptor beta chain variable regions of T cells inducing synovial hyperplasia in rheumatoid arthritis.

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Molecular Medicine, Osaka University Medical School, Osaka, 565, Japan.


Previously, we demonstrated the presence of at least two distinct subpopulations of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) employing a cell-transfer experiment using severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice. One group of patients, whose T cells derived from the rheumatoid joints, induced synovial hyperplasia (SH) in the SCID mice (the positive group). The other group did not display the induction of SH (the negative group). TCR/Vbeta gene usage analysis indicated that some dominant T cell subpopulations were oligoclonally expanding only in the rheumatoid joints, and not in the periphery of the patients of the positive group. Moreover, these T cell subpopulations were not seen in the joints of patients in the negative group or in non-RA patients. In addition, the preferential uses of certain TCR/Vbetas (Vbeta8, Vbeta12, Vbeta13, and Vbeta14) genes were demonstrated in these T cells. In this study, to investigate whether these T cells are driven by a certain antigen(s), the third complementarity determining regions (CDR3s) of TCR/Vbeta, especially Vbeta8 and Vbeta14 PCR products, were cloned and sequenced. As a result, a dominant CDR3 sequence, CASS-PRERAT-YEQ, was found in Vbeta14+ T cells from the rheumatoid joint of a patient (Patient 1) of the positive group with a Vbeta14 skew. The identical CDR3 sequence also predominated in Vbeta14+ T cells from the rheumatoid joint of another patient (Patient 7) of the positive group with a Vbeta14 skew. In addition, in the patients (Patients 4, 7, 8) of the positive group with a Vbeta8 skew, other dominant CDR3 sequences, CASS-ENS-YEQ and CASS-LTEP-DTQ, were found as in the case of Vbeta14. However, no identical CDR3 sequences were detected dominantly in the joints of the patients in the negative group or in non-RA patients. A Vbeta14+ T cell clone (TCL), named G3, with the identical CDR3 sequence, CASS-PRERAT-YEQ, was isolated successfully from Patient 1, and cell transfer of G3 with autologous irradiated peripheral mononuclear cells induced SH in the SCID mice. Taken together, these results suggest that T cells inducing SH, thought to be pathogenic for RA, might be driven by a certain shared antigen(s).

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