Vertebrate T cells express either an alpha beta or gamma delta T cell receptor (TCR). The developmental relatedness of the two cell types is unresolved. alpha beta + T cells respond to specific pathogens by collaborating with immunoglobulin-producing B cells in distinct lymphoid organs such as the spleen and Peyer's patches. The precise influence of alpha beta + T cells on B cell development is poorly understood. To investigate the developmental effects of alpha beta + T cells on B cells and gamma delta + T cells, mice homozygous for a disrupted TCR alpha gene were generated. The homozygotes showed elimination of alpha beta + T cells and the loss of thymic medullae. Despite this, gamma delta + T cells developed in normal numbers, and there was an increase in splenic B cells.

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