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Semin Immunol. 2010 Oct;22(5):287-93. doi: 10.1016/j.smim.2010.04.012. Epub 2010 May 26.

Role of thymic cortex-specific self-peptides in positive selection of T cells.

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Division of Experimental Immunology, Institute for Genome Research, University of Tokushima, Tokushima 770-8503, Japan.


During T cell development in the thymus, a virgin repertoire of diverse TCRalphabeta recognition specificities in immature thymocytes is selected through positive and negative selection to form an immunocompetent and self-tolerant repertoire of mature T cells. Positive selection supports the survival of thymocytes that receive weak signals of low-avidity TCR engagement, whereas negative selection deletes potentially harmful self-reactive thymocytes upon high-avidity TCR engagement. Early studies have highlighted the role of TCR interaction with polymorphic MHC determinants in positive selection, while negative selection imposes TCR specificity to peptide antigens displayed by MHC molecules. However, recent advances in the biology of thymic stromal cells have indicated that the formation of an immunocompetent TCR repertoire requires positive selection by thymic cortical epithelial cells expressing a unique protein degradation machinery, suggesting the role of self-peptide repertoire specifically expressed by thymic cortical epithelial cells in the development of the acquired immune system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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