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Nature. 1989 Jun 29;339(6227):712-4.

Diversity of gamma delta T-cell receptors on murine intestinal intra-epithelial lymphocytes.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts.


The search for the genes encoding the T-cell receptor (TCR) alpha- and beta-subunits revealed a third gene gamma which shares with the alpha- and beta-genes several properties including somatic rearrangement. This gene, together with a fourth rearranging gene delta, encodes a second type of T-cell receptor, TCR gamma delta. Although TCR gamma delta-bearing T cells constitute a relatively minor subpopulation in the thymus and in peripheral lymphoid organs, they are the major lymphocytes of epidermis (dendritic epidermal cells or DEC) and of intestinal epithelium (intestinal intraepithelial lymphocytes or IEL) in mice, suggesting that at least some gamma delta T cells are important in the surveillance of a variety of epithelia. It was recently reported, however, that the TCR gamma delta on DEC has essentially no structural diversity, implying that the putative ligand is monomorphic. As this finding, if generally applicable, poses severe restrictions on the origin of the ligand, we investigated the diversity of the TCR on the second major epithelium-associated gamma delta T cells, namely IEL from mice. We report here that by contrast with the DEC gamma delta, the IEL gamma delta TCR are structurally diverse.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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