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Nature. 1985 Aug 29-Sep 4;316(6031):828-32.

Unusual organization and diversity of T-cell receptor alpha-chain genes.


T lymphocytes recognize cell-bound antigens in the molecular context of the self major histocompatibility complex (MHC) gene products through the surface T-cell receptor(s). The minimal component of the T-cell receptor is a heterodimer composed of alpha and beta subunits, each of relative molecular mass (Mr) approximately 45,000 (refs 1-3). Recently, complementary DNA clones encoding these subunits have been isolated and characterized along with that of a third subunit of unknown function, termed gamma (refs 4-9). These studies revealed a primary structure for each subunit that was clearly similar to that of immunoglobulin and indicated a somatic rearrangement of corresponding genes that are also immunoglobulin-like. Recently, the analysis of the sequence organization of the T-cell receptor beta-chain and T-cell-specific gamma-chain gene families has been reported. We now present an initial characterization of the murine T-cell receptor alpha-chain gene family, and conclude that although it is clearly related to the gene families encoding immunoglobulins, T-cell receptor beta-chains and also T-cell gamma-chains, it shows unique characteristics. There is only a single constant (C) region gene segment, which is an exceptionally large distance (approximately 20-40 kilobases (kb) in the cases studied here) from joining (J) gene segments. In addition, the J cluster and the variable (V) segment number seen to be very large. Finally, in the case studied here, a complete alpha-chain gene shows no somatic mutation and can be assembled directly from V alpha, J alpha and C alpha segments without inclusion of diversity (D alpha) segments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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