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Eur J Immunol. 1993 Jun;23(6):1294-8.

Functional characterization of the promoter for the human germ-line T cell receptor J alpha (TEA) transcript.

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Développement normal et pathologique du système immunitaire - INSERM U 132, Hôpital Necker-Enfants Malades, Paris, France.


The T cell receptor (TCR)-alpha and -delta loci are contained on the same chromosomal region, and yet are developmentally and genetically independent. The first element of the J alpha cluster (psi J alpha) is the site of an active rearrangement in the human thymus (delta Rec-psi J alpha rearrangement) and is localized downstream of a region expressed as a germ-line sterile transcript (TEA) in the human developing thymus. We hypothesized that the transcription of TEA could be indicative of (or responsible for) the opening of the J alpha to the V(D)J recombinase and undertook to analyze cis-acting sequences controlling the TEA transcription. The promoter of TEA was characterized. It was part of a region that is highly conserved between human and mouse and contained many sites for the putative binding of T cell-specific transcription factors. The in vitro activity of this promoter was dependent on the association with an enhancer. A strong DNase I hypersensitive site was found in the vicinity of this promoter again suggesting the possible presence of protein-DNA interactions in this region. The implications of these results in the general perspective of TCR-alpha/delta gene regulation is discussed.

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