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Immunity. 1997 Aug;7(2):221-31.

Specific recognition of thymic self-peptides induces the positive selection of cytotoxic T lymphocytes.

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Gwen Knapp Center for Lupus and Immunology Research, Department of Pathology, University of Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.


To understand how thymic selection gives rise to T cells that are capable of major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-restricted recognition of antigen but are tolerant of self, we directly examined how peptide/MHC ligands expressed on thymic epithelial cells trigger the positive selection of immature thymocytes. We demonstrate that abundant self-peptides, purified from the H-2D(b) molecules of thymic epithelial cells, are specifically recognized during the positive selection of CD8+ T cells, implying that positive selection generates a repertoire of T cells that is weakly self-reactive. We also found that this recognition is somewhat cross-reactive, thereby providing an explanation for how the specific recognition of a limited repertoire of thymic self-peptides can select a diverse repertoire of T cells.

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