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J Immunol. 1999 Oct 1;163(7):3858-66.

Characterization of an avian (Gallus gallus domesticus) TCR alpha delta gene locus.

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Division of Developmental and Clinical Immunology, Department of Medicine, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Alabama, Birmingham 35294, USA.


Mammalian TCR delta genes are located in the midst of the TCR alpha gene locus. In the chicken, one large V delta gene family, two D delta gene segments, two J delta gene segments, and one C delta gene have been identified. The TCR delta genes were deleted on both alleles in alpha beta T cell lines, thereby indicating conservation of the combined TCR alpha delta locus in birds. V alpha and V delta gene segments were found to rearrange with one, both or neither of the D delta segments and either of the two J delta segments. Exonuclease activity, P-addition, and N-addition during VDJ delta rearrangement contributed to TCR delta repertoire diversification in the first embryonic wave of T cells. An unbiased V delta 1 repertoire was observed at all ages, but an acquired J delta 1 usage bias occurred in the TCR delta repertoire. The unrestricted combinatorial diversity of relatively complex TCR gamma and delta loci may contribute to the remarkable abundance of gamma delta T cells in this avian representative.

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