The majority of thymocytes die in the thymus, whereas small populations of T cells that are able to specifically recognize an antigen are considered to survive. Although the thymic selection is thought to have a profound effect on T-cell receptor (TCR) repertoire, little is known how TCR repertoire is formed during the thymocyte developmental process. We examined TCRα- and β-chain variable regions (TCRAV and TCRBV) repertoire in thymic T-cell subpopulations from mice bearing different major histocompatibility (MHC) haplotypes. In Balb/c mice, but not C57BL/6, remarkable alterations of the TCR repertoire were observed in mature T-cell subpopulations as previously reported. In contrast, there were no significant differences of TCRBV repertoire between DN3 (CD25+CD44-) and DN4 (CD25-CD44 -), and between DN4 and DP. These results suggest that (1) TCR repertoire of mature T cells was formed mainly under the influence of endogenous superantigens, while MHC haplotypes played the least role; (2) the 'β-selection' process during immature stages had little impact on TCRBV repertoire formation; and (3) TCR repertoire in immature T-cell subpopulations was extremely similar between different strains of mice. We thus consider that pre-selection TCR repertoire in immature T cells could be determined by some genetic factors conserved among different strains.
ASJC Scopus subject areas