A limited role for beta-selection during gamma delta T cell development

A Wilson, H R MacDonald
Journal of Immunology 1998 December 1, 161 (11): 5851-4
T cells belong to two distinct lineages expressing either alpha beta or gamma delta TCR. During alpha beta T cell development, it is clearly established that productive rearrangement at the TCR beta locus in immature precursor cells leads to the expression of a pre-TCR complex. Signaling through the pre-TCR results in the selective proliferation and maturation of TCR beta+ cells, a process that is known as beta-selection. However, the potential role of beta-selection during gamma delta T cell development is controversial. Whereas PCR-RFLP and sequencing techniques have provided evidence for a bias toward in-frame VDJ beta rearrangements in gamma delta cells (consistent with beta-selection), gamma delta cells apparently develop normally in mice that are unable to assemble a pre-TCR complex due to a deficiency in TCR beta or pT alpha genes. In this report, we have directly addressed the physiologic significance of beta-selection during gamma delta cell development in normal mice by quantitating intracellular TCR beta protein in gamma delta cells and correlating its presence with cell cycle status. Our results indicate that beta-selection plays a significant (although limited) role in gamma delta cell development by selectively amplifying a minor subset of gamma delta precursor cells with productively rearranged TCR beta genes.

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