Allelic exclusion at the TCR delta locus and commitment to gamma delta lineage: different modalities apply to distinct human gamma delta subsets

Chrystelle Couedel, Eric Lippert, Karine Bernardeau, Marc Bonneville, François Davodeau
Journal of Immunology 2004 May 1, 172 (9): 5544-52
Expression of a beta-chain, as a pre-TCR, in T cell precursors prevents further rearrangements on the alternate beta allele through a strict allelic exclusion process and enables precursors to undergo differentiation. However, whether allelic exclusion applies to the TCR delta locus is unknown and the role of the gamma delta TCR in gamma delta lineage commitment is still unclear. Through the analysis of the rearrangement status of the TCR gamma, delta, and beta loci in human gamma delta T cell clones, expressing either the TCR V delta 1 or V delta 2 variable regions, we show that the rate of partial rearrangements at the delta locus is consistent with an allelic exclusion process. The overrepresentation of clones with two functional TCR gamma chains indicates that a gamma delta TCR selection process is required for the commitment of T cell precursors to the gamma delta lineage. Finally, while complete TCR beta rearrangements were observed in several V delta 2 T cell clones, these were seldom found in V delta 1 cells. This suggests a competitive alpha beta/gamma delta lineage commitment in the former subset and a precommitment to the gamma delta lineage in the latter. We propose that these distinct behaviors are related to the developmental stage at which rearrangements occur, as suggested by the patterns of accessibility to recombination sites that characterize the V delta 1 and V delta 2 subsets.

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