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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1991 Mar 15;88(6):2151-5.

Receptor-stimulated death pathway is opened by antigen in mature T cells.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110.


Clonal deletion provides an important mechanism for the elimination of autoreactive T cells. Deletion is accomplished by programmed cell death directed by interaction of the T-cell receptor (TCR) of the developing thymocyte with major histocompatibility complex elements in the thymic environment. In this report we present evidence to support the hypothesis that the activation and the maturation state of the T cell may be important in coupling the TCR to the "death program." We show that coupling of the TCR to the death program is open during maturation but closed in naive mature T cells. However, during primary antigenic stimulation, coupling between the TCR and the death program is reopened, as demonstrated by the stimulation of the death of these cells by immobilized anti-TCR. Our results suggest that further examination of mature cells that are either resistant or sensitive to receptor-stimulated death may lead to the identification of the components of the death pathway and may provide clues to the regulation of their coupling to TCR signals.

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