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Clin Immunol. 2000 Jan;94(1):24-32.

Effect of a genetic deficiency of terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase on autoantibody production by C57BL6 Fas(lpr) mice.

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Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina 29425, USA.


Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT) adds nontemplate coded nucleotides (N additions) between the recombining ends of immunoglobulin and T cell receptor genes. These nucleotides add significant diversity to the Ig and TCR repertoires. Amino acids coded for by these nucleotides play a key role in the binding of self antigens by autoantibodies and autoreactive T cells. To determine the effect of a lack of N additions on autoantibody production, we bred the TdT knockout genotype onto the autoimmune C57BL/6-Fas(lpr) background. TdT-deficient mice had significantly lower sera anti-DNA and rheumatoid factor activity than their TdT-producing littermates. C57BL/6-Fas(lpr) TdT-deficient mice had shorter VH CDR3 regions and fewer VH CDR3 arginines [0.6% versus 4. 7%] than their TdT-producing littermates. These data indicate that the absence of TdT limited the production of anti-DNA antibodies and rheumatoid factors in C57BL/6-Fas(lpr) mice, likely due to constraints on Ig diversity secondary to the lack of TdT-derived N additions.

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