Designing and maintaining the mature TCR repertoire: the continuum of self-peptide:self-MHC complex recognition

Immunity. 1999 May;10(5):559-68. doi: 10.1016/s1074-7613(00)80055-2.


Peripheral T cell maintenance requires a survival signal delivered upon T cell receptor (TCR)-major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecule interaction. Since self-peptides play a critical role in the intrathymic positive selection of the mature TCR repertoire, we hypothesized an equally important role in T cell persistence. We used mice with a normal expression of MHC class II molecules but a restricted self-peptide complexity (H-2M alpha-/-) to show that an MHC class II-restricted T cell specificity that displays a deficient positive selection in the H-2M alpha-/- thymus shows an impaired persistence after adoptive transfer in H-2M alpha-/- recipients. Finally, a wild-type CD4+ TCR repertoire is incompletely maintained in H-2M alpha-/- recipients. These observations suggest that, similar to intrathymic positive selection, the maintenance of the mature TCR repertoire relies on the recognition of self-peptide:self-MHC complexes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adoptive Transfer
  • Animals
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • Cell Division / radiation effects
  • Drug Interactions
  • Epitopes
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / immunology*
  • Major Histocompatibility Complex / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / immunology
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / metabolism*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / physiology*
  • Thymectomy


  • Epitopes
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell