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Immunity. 1996 Sep;5(3):217-28.

MHC class II molecules are not required for survival of newly generated CD4+ T cells, but affect their long-term life span.

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  • 1Basel Institute for Immunology, Switzerland.


We grafted fetal thymi from wild-type mice into immunodeficient RAG-2-/- or class II-/-RAG-2-/- (class II MHC-) recipients and followed the fate of naive CD4+ T cells derived from the grafts. In both types of recipients, newly generated CD4+ T cells proliferated to the same extent in the periphery and rapidly filled the empty T cell compartment. However, CD4+ T cells in class II- recipients gradually decreased in number over 6 months. These results show that interactions between the TCR and class II molecules are not required for newly generated CD4+ T cells to survive and proliferate, but are necessary to maintain the size of the peripheral T cell pool for extended periods.

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