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Nat Immunol. 2000 Oct;1(4):336-41.

Receptor editing in developing T cells.

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Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


A central tenet of T cell development postulates that if a developing thymocyte encounters self-antigen, it is induced to die via apoptosis, thereby protecting the organism from autoreactive T cells. We created transgenic mice that expressed a peptide antigen in the cortical epithelial cells of the thymus. This did not, however, result in deletion of specific T cells. Instead, antigen presentation by epithelial cells caused T cell receptor (TCR) internalization and increased gene rearrangement at the endogenous TCR alpha locus, or receptor editing. This editing mechanism in immature T cells parallels that which occurs in immature B cells, and has important implications for understanding positive and negative selection signaling in the thymus, and the limits of self-tolerance.

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