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Immunity. 1997 Jan;6(1):1-11.

alpha, beta, gamma, and delta T cell antigen receptor genes arose early in vertebrate phylogeny.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of South Florida, All Children's Hospital, St. Petersburg 33701, USA.


A series of products were amplified using a PCR strategy based on short minimally degenerate primers and R. eglanteria (clearnose skate) spleen cDNA as template. These products were used as probes to select corresponding cDNAs from a spleen cDNA library. The cDNA sequences exhibit significant identity with prototypic (alpha, beta, gamma, and delta T cell antigen receptor (TCR) genes. Characterization of cDNAs reveals extensive variable region diversity, putative diversity segments, and varying degrees of junctional diversification. This demonstrates expression of both alpha/beta and gamma/delta TCR genes at an early level of vertebrate phylogeny and indicates that the three major known classes of rearranging antigen receptors were present in the common ancestor of the present-day jawed vertebrates.

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