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Cell. 1996 Feb 23;84(4):521-9.

The repertoire of T cells shaped by a single MHC/peptide ligand.

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Department of Medicine, National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, 80206, USA.


Although the thymus produces many immature thymocytes, few of these cells mature. Positive selection has been thought to limit thymocyte development. In thymuses expressing a single MHC/peptide combination, however, surprisingly large numbers of thymocytes are selected to mature. Many of these react with the selecting MHC, bound to other self-peptides. Therefore, the number of thymocytes that mature is limited by the fact that positively selected cells die because they react too well with MHC bound to self-peptides that are not identical to those involved in positive selection. T cells that mature in thymuses expressing a single MHC/peptide ligand react frequently with foreign MHC, suggesting that the repertoire of alpha beta receptors may be more biased toward reaction with MHC than was previously thought.

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