Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
EMBO J. 1997 May 1;16(9):2282-93.

T-cell receptor ligation by peptide/MHC induces activation of a caspase in immature thymocytes: the molecular basis of negative selection.

Author information

  • 1Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


T-cell receptors (TCRs) are created by a stochastic gene rearrangement process during thymocyte development, generating thymocytes bearing useful, as well as unwanted, specificities. Within the latter group, autoreactive thymocytes arise which are subsequently eliminated via a thymocyte-specific apoptotic mechanism, termed negative selection. The molecular basis of this deletion is unknown. Here, we show that TCR triggering by peptide/MHC ligands activates a caspase in double-positive (DP) CD4+ CD8+ thymocytes, resulting in their death. Inhibition of this enzymatic activity prevents antigen-induced death of DP thymocytes in fetal thymic organ culture (FTOC) from TCR transgenic mice as well as apoptosis induced by anti-CD3epsilon monoclonal antibody and corticosteroids in FTOC of normal C57BL/6 mice. Hence, a common caspase mediates immature thymocyte susceptibility to cell death.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center