Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Jun 5;104(23):9776-81. Epub 2007 May 29.

A unique T cell receptor discovered in marsupials.

Author information

Center for Evolutionary and Theoretical Immunology and Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA.


T cells recognize antigens by using T cell receptors (TCRs) encoded by gene segments, called variable (V), diversity (D), and joining (J), that undergo somatic recombination to create diverse binding specificities. Four TCR chains (alpha, beta, gamma, and delta) have been identified to date, and, as T cells develop in the thymus, they express exclusively either an alphabetaTCR or a gammadeltaTCR heterodimer. Here, we show that marsupials have an additional TCR (TCRmu) that has V, D, and J that are either somatically recombined, as in conventional TCRs, or are already prejoined in the germ-line DNA in a manner consistent with their creation by retrotransposition. TCRmu does not have a known homolog in eutherian mammals but has features analogous to a recently described TCRdelta isoform in sharks. TCRmu is expressed in at least two mRNA isoforms that appear capable of encoding a full-length protein, both of which are transcribed in the thymus and spleen. One contains two variable domains: a somatically recombined V and a prejoined V. This appears to be the dominant isoform in peripheral lymphoid tissue. The other isoform contains only the prejoined V and is structurally more similar to conventional TCR chains, however invariant. Unlike other TCRs, TCRmu uses prejoined gene segments and is likely present in all marsupials. Its similarity to a TCR isoform in sharks suggests that it, or something similar, may be present in other vertebrate lineages and, therefore, may represent an ancient receptor system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center