Exposing Thy Self

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Science  15 Nov 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5597, pp. 1348-1349
DOI: 10.1126/science.1079323

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It is well established that clonal deletion of self-reactive T cells is the principal mechanism for inducing tolerance in the thymus. This process is believed to be one mechanism that prevents the development of autoimmunity. In her Perspective, Ohashi discusses new work (Anderson et al.) that reveals an extra facet of clonal deletion. The transcription factor aire promotes the expression by mouse thymic epithelial cells of tissue-specific proteins not normally expressed in the thymus, thus ensuring the deletion of T cells that are reactive to these proteins.