Failure of T cell receptor V beta negative selection in an athymic environment

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Science  24 Nov 1989:
Vol. 246, Issue 4933, pp. 1041-1044
DOI: 10.1126/science.2587987


The mature T cell receptor (TCR) repertoire is the result of selection events during T cell development. Previous assessment of TCR beta-chain selection with serologic and molecular probes demonstrated both positive and negative selection. Although this work suggested a critical role for the thymus, no direct assessment has been made of the requirement for a thymus in TCR V beta selection. A comparison of TCR V beta expression in four different congenic pairs of normal and nu/nu (athymic) mice indicated that the normal V beta deletions associated with tolerance to self minor lymphocyte stimulating (Mlsc) antigens or to self major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-encoded E alpha E beta products did not occur in most athymic mice. Thus, the thymus has a critical role in mediating self tolerance by negative selection.

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