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Nature. 1987 Sep 17-23;329(6136):251-4.

A novel population of T-cell receptor alpha beta-bearing thymocytes which predominantly expresses a single V beta gene family.


Recent studies have demonstrated that CD3 is expressed on a subset of thymocytes with a CD4-CD8- (double negative) phenotype. At least some of these cells bear the CD3-associated gamma delta T-cell receptor (TCR gamma delta). Here we describe a second subset of double negative thymocytes which expresses CD3-associated alpha beta receptors (TCR alpha beta). Surprisingly, these cells express predominantly the products of a single V beta gene family (V beta 8). These CD4-CD8-, TCR alpha beta+ cells appear relatively late in ontogeny (between birth and day 5 of life) and thus are unlikely to be the precursors to the TCR alpha beta-bearing cells (CD4+CD8- and CD4-CD8+) already present at birth. They can be selectively expanded in vitro by stimulation with a monoclonal antibody to V beta 8 (F23.1) in the presence of interleukin I (IL-1). We propose that this cell type is a unique T-cell population distinguishable from typical TCR alpha beta+ T cells by its CD4-CD8- phenotype and a restricted TCR V beta repertoire. Analysis of the unique phenotype of these cells suggests that they may represent the normal counterpart of the defective CD4-CD8- T cells found in the lpr autoimmune mouse.

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