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Immunity. 1998 May;8(5):563-70.

Allelic inclusion of T cell receptor alpha genes poses an autoimmune hazard due to low-level expression of autospecific receptors.

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Institut Necker, INSERM 373, Paris, France.


Organ-specific autoimmune disease can be caused by alphabeta T cells that have escaped self-tolerance induction. Here we show that one of the causes of escape from self-tolerance is the coexpression of two different T cell receptors by the same cell, which can occur in up to 30% of all T cells in normal mice and can lead to low-level surface expression of an autospecific TCR. We found that double receptor-expressing T cells can escape tolerance even to ubiquitously expressed antigens but can nevertheless induce autoimmune diabetes when the relevant protein is expressed in pancreatic tissue. Such diabetogenic T cells are absent, however, among T cells expressing the autospecific TCR as the sole receptor.

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