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Eur J Immunol. 2012 Sep;42(9):2354-62. doi: 10.1002/eji.201242520. Epub 2012 Jul 16.

Incomplete TCR-β allelic exclusion accelerates spontaneous autoimmune arthritis in K/BxN TCR transgenic mice.

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Center for Immunology and Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55414, USA.


Allelic exclusion of antigen receptor loci is a fundamental mechanism of immunological self-tolerance. Incomplete allelic exclusion leads to dual T-cell receptor (TCR) expression and can allow developing autoreactive αβ T lymphocytes to escape clonal deletion. Because allelic exclusion at the TCR-β locus is more stringent than at the TCR-α locus, dual TCR-β expression has not been considered a likely contributor to autoimmunity. We show here that incomplete TCR-β allelic exclusion permits developing thymocytes bearing the autoreactive, transgene-encoded KRN TCR to be positively selected more efficiently, thereby accelerating the onset of spontaneous autoimmune arthritis. Our findings highlight dual TCR-β expression as a mechanism that can enhance the maturation of autoreactive pathogenic T cells and lead to more rapid development of autoimmune disease.

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