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Cell Res. 2012 Jan;22(1):33-42. doi: 10.1038/cr.2012.1. Epub 2012 Jan 3.

Determinants of public T cell responses.

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State Key Laboratory of Cellular Stress Biology and School of Life Sciences, Xiamen University, Xiamen, Fujian, China.


Historically, sharing T cell receptors (TCRs) between individuals has been speculated to be impossible, considering the dramatic discrepancy between the potential enormity of the TCR repertoire and the limited number of T cells generated in each individual. However, public T cell response, in which multiple individuals share identical TCRs in responding to a same antigenic epitope, has been extensively observed in a variety of immune responses across many species. Public T cell responses enable individuals within a population to generate similar antigen-specific TCRs against certain ubiquitous pathogens, leading to favorable biological outcomes. However, the relatively concentrated feature of TCR repertoire may limit T cell response in a population to some other pathogens. It could be a great benefit for human health if public T cell responses can be manipulated. Therefore, the mechanistic insight of public TCR generation is important to know. Recently, high-throughput DNA sequencing has revolutionized the study of immune receptor repertoires, which allows a much better understanding of the factors that determine the overlap of TCR repertoire among individuals. Here, we summarize the current knowledge on public T-cell response and discuss future challenges in this field.

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