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NPJ Genom Med. 2019 May 6;4:10. doi: 10.1038/s41525-019-0084-9. eCollection 2019.

RNA sequencing identifies clonal structure of T-cell repertoires in patients with adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma.

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1Department of Computational Biology and Medical Sciences, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.
2Human Genome Center, The Institute of Medical Science, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.
3Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.


The diversity of T-cell receptor (TCR) repertoires, as generated by somatic DNA rearrangements, is central to immune system function. High-throughput sequencing technologies now allow examination of antigen receptor repertoires at single-nucleotide and, more recently, single-cell resolution. The TCR repertoire can be altered in the context of infections, malignancies or immunological disorders. Here we examined the diversity of TCR clonality and its association with pathogenesis and prognosis in adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATL), a malignancy caused by infection with human T-cell leukemia virus type-1 (HTLV-1). We analyzed 62 sets of high-throughput RNA sequencing data from 59 samples of HTLV-1-infected individuals-asymptomatic carriers (ACs), smoldering, chronic, acute and lymphoma ATL subtypes-and three uninfected controls to evaluate TCR distribution. Based on these TCR profiles, CD4-positive cells and ACs showed polyclonal patterns, whereas ATL patients showed oligo- or monoclonal patterns (with 446 average clonotypes across samples). Expression of TCRα and TCRβ genes in the dominant clone differed among the samples. ACs, CD4-positive samples and smoldering patients showed significantly higher TCR diversity compared with chronic, acute and lymphoma subtypes. CDR3 sequence length distribution, amino acid conservation and gene usage variability for ATL patients resembled those of peripheral blood cells from ACs and healthy donors. Thus, determining monoclonal architecture and clonal diversity by RNA sequencing might be useful for prognostic purposes and for personalizing ATL diagnosis and assessment of treatments.


Genome informatics; High-throughput screening

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no competing interests.

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