Structure and diversity of the human T-cell receptor beta-chain variable region genes

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Science  22 Aug 1986:
Vol. 233, Issue 4766, pp. 879-883
DOI: 10.1126/science.3755549


In order to characterize the variability of the expressed human T-cell receptor (TCR) beta-chain repertoire and contrast this variability to the known murine beta-chain repertoire, 15 independent complementary DNA (cDNA) clones containing TCR beta-chain variable region (V beta) genes were isolated from a human tonsil cDNA library. The nucleotide and derived amino acid sequences of these 15 V beta genes were analyzed together with 7 previously defined sequences. Fifteen different human V beta genes could be identified from 22 independent sequences. By means of DNA hybridization and sequence homology comparisons, it was possible to group these 15 genes into ten distinct V beta subfamilies, each containing from one to seven members. Minimal polymorphism was noted between individuals, except in multimember subfamilies. The amino acid sequences of these genes contain conserved amino acids that are also shared by murine TCR V beta genes and immunoglobulins; no features were found that distinguish human V beta genes from their murine counterparts. Evaluation of secondary structure showed that maximum variability coincides with generally hydrophilic portions of the amino acid sequence, while specific hydrophobic regions were conserved in all V beta genes examined.