The positive selection of CD4+ T cells requires the expression of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II molecules in the thymus, but the role of self-peptides complexed to class II molecules is still a matter of debate. Recently, it was observed that transgenic mice expressing a single peptide-MHC class II complex positively select significant numbers of diverse CD4+ T cells in the thymus. However, the number of selected T cell specificities has not been evaluated so far. Here, we have sequenced 700 junctional complementarity determining regions 3 (CDR3) from T cell receptors (TCRs) carrying Vβ11-Jβ1.1 or Vβ12-Jβ1.1 rearrangements. We found that a single peptide-MHC class II complex positively selects at least 105 different Vβ rearrangements. Our data yield a first evaluation oF the size of the T cell repertoire. In addition, they provide evidence that the single Eα52-68-I-Ab complex skews the amino acid frequency in the TCR CDR3 loop of positively selected T cells. A detailed analysis of CDR3 sequences indicates that a fraction of the β chain repertoire bears the imprint of the selecting self-peptide.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy