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Annu Rev Immunol. 2012;30:95-114. doi: 10.1146/annurev-immunol-020711-075035. Epub 2011 Dec 5.

Selection of self-reactive T cells in the thymus.

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Center for Immunology and Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455, USA.


On the whole, the healthy adaptive immune system is responsive to foreign antigens and tolerant to self. However, many individual lymphocytes have, and even require, substantial self-reactivity for their particular functions in immunity. In this review, we discuss several populations of lymphocytes that are thought to experience agonist stimulation through the T cell receptor during selection: nTreg cells, iNKT cells, nIELs, and nTh17s. We discuss the nature of this self-reactivity, how it compares with conventional T cells, and why it is important for overall immune health. We also outline molecular pathways unique to each lineage and consider possible commonalities to their development and survival.

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