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Nat Immunol. 2006 Aug;7(8):843-50. Epub 2006 Jul 9.

Selection of the cutaneous intraepithelial gammadelta+ T cell repertoire by a thymic stromal determinant.

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Department of Dermatology and Yale Skin Disease Research Core Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06511, USA.


Intraepithelial lymphocytes constitute a group of T cells that express mainly monospecific or oligoclonal T cell receptors (TCRs). Like adaptive TCR alphabeta+ T cells, intraepithelial lymphocytes, a subset enriched in TCR gammadelta+ T cells, are proposed to be positively selected by thymically expressed self agonists, yet no direct evidence for this exists at present. Mouse dendritic epidermal T cells are prototypic intraepithelial lymphocytes, displaying an almost monoclonal TCR gammadelta+ repertoire. Here we describe an FVB substrain of mice in which this repertoire was uniquely depleted, resulting in cutaneous pathology. This phenotype was due to failure of dendritic epidermal T cell progenitors to mature because of a heritable defect in a dominant gene used by the thymic stroma to 'educate' the natural, skin-associated intraepithelial lymphocyte repertoire to be of physiological use.

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