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Transplantation. 1999 Oct 15;68(7):1029-36.

Characterization and manipulation of T cell immunity to skin grafts expressing a transgenic minor antigen.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Institute of Pathology, Case Western Reserve University, Ohio 44106, USA.



Minor histocompatibility antigens play a significant role in allograft rejection when donor and recipient are matched at MHC loci. An improved understanding of T cell immunity directed toward a model minor antigen may provide new approaches for preventing graft rejection.


C57BL/6 (B6) recipient mice were engrafted with skin from B6 beta-galactosidase transgenic (beta-gal tg) donors and the induced T cell immune responses were characterized by cytokine ELISA spot assay. beta-gal-specific immunity was manipulated prior to transplant through preinjection with beta-gal in complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) or through preinjection with soluble beta-gal i.v.


B6 mice rejected beta-gal tg skin by day 25. Rejection was associated with a low frequency of predominantly CD8+, interferon-gamma-producing T cells capable of directly recognizing both beta-gal tg cells and an immunodominant major histocompatibility complex I-restricted peptide derived from the beta-gal protein. Rejection of multiple minor antigen disparate skin and major histocompatibility complex-disparate skin occurred significantly faster, and was associated with a 10- to 30-fold higher frequency of alloreactive T cells, than rejection of beta-gal tg skin. Prepriming of recipients with beta-gal in complete Freund's adjuvant resulted in an increased frequency of beta-gal-specific T cells and accelerated rejection of beta-gal tg skin. Intravenous injection of soluble beta-gal-induced graft tolerance and a lack of detectable beta-gal-specific immunity.


The findings reveal that transgenically expressed beta-gal behaves as a minor transplantation antigen and that manipulation of the beta-gal-specific T cell repertoire can dramatically affect rejection of beta-gal tg skin grafts. The work provides the foundation for mechanistic studies of tolerogenesis to minor antigenic determinants.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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