Regulation of Lineage Commitment Distinct from Positive Selection

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Science  05 Nov 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5442, pp. 1149-1153
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5442.1149

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Developing αβ T cells diverge into the CD4 and CD8 lineages as they mature in the thymus. It is unclear whether lineage commitment is mechanistically distinct from the process that selects for the survival of T cells with useful T cell receptor (TCR) specificities (positive selection). In HD mice, which lack mature CD4+ T cells, major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II–restricted T cells are redirected to the CD8 lineage independent of MHC class I expression. However, neither TCR-mediated signaling nor positive selection is impaired. Thus, the HD mutation provides genetic evidence that lineage commitment may be mechanistically distinct from positive selection.

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