The thymus plays a crucial role in immune tolerance by exposing developing T cells (thymocytes) to a myriad of self-antigens. Strong T-cell receptor (TCR) engagement induces tolerance in self-reactive thymocytes by stimulating apoptosis or selection into specialized T-cell lineages, including intestinal TCRαβ+ CD8αα+ intraepithelial lymphocytes (IEL). TCR-intrinsic amino acid motifs that can be used to predict whether a TCR will be strongly self-reactive remain elusive. Here, a novel TCR sequence alignment approach revealed that T-cell lineages in C57BL/6 mice had divergent usage of cysteine within two positions of the amino acid at the apex of the complementarity-determining region 3 (CDR3) of the TCRα or TCRβ chain. Compared to pre-selection thymocytes, central CDR3 cysteine usage was increased in IEL and Type A IEL precursors (IELp) and markedly decreased in Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (T-reg) and naïve T cells. These findings reveal a TCR-intrinsic motif that distinguishes Type A IELp and IEL from T-reg and naïve T cells.
- Central tolerance
- T cells
- T-cell receptor
- VDJ recombination
John Phelps (Manager)Office of the Vice-Provost (Research and Research Infrastructure)
David Powell (Manager)Office of the Vice-Provost (Research and Research Infrastructure)