Thymocytes are thought to be selected on the basis of antigen specificity between TCR and peptide-MHC (pMHC) ligands. The specificity depends primarily on extensive diversities of complementarity determining region 3 (CDR3), whose specificity is considered to be determined through thymocyte selection. We examined the CDR3 length profiles with 20 BV segments in thymocyte subpopulations from C57BL/6 (H-2b), C.B10 (Balb/c congenic, H-2b) and Balb/c (H-2d) mice. The CDR3 length was shorter in both CD4 single positive (SP) and CD8SP than in double positive (DP), but not altered among DP, double negative (DN) 4 and DN3 subpopulations. The CDR3 shortened more prominently in CD4SP than in CD8SP for C57BL/6 and C.B10, but the shortening was only slight for Balb/c. Although the shortening varied considerably among different BV segments, the greater shortening was observed in most BV segments for CD4SP and in several for CD8SP, in particular, the extent was the greatest in BV1, BV2, BV15, BV16, BV23 and BV26 for CD4SP, and in BV13-1 and BV29 for CD8SP. Moreover, the extent and the pattern of CDR3 shortening were basically the same among highly homologous BV segments (e.g. BV12-1 and 12-2; BV13-1, 13-2 and 13-3). These results taken together indicate that (1) the CDR3 shortening occurred between the DP to the SP stages but never earlier, that (2) there would be the MHC class preference for the CDR3 shortening, that (3) it was in part influenced by MHC haplotype, and finally that (4) the primary structure of particular BV segments would possibly affect the CDR3 length in selected thymocytes. It could be deduced from these results that the CDR3 shortening might play roles in ensuring geometrical disposition of CDRs unique to each BV segment and consequently allow CDRs to intimately interact with pMHC ligands.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology