Negative selection--clearing out the bad apples from the T-cell repertoire

Nat Rev Immunol. 2003 May;3(5):383-91. doi: 10.1038/nri1085.


Dead cells are a prominent feature of the thymic landscape as only 5% of developing thymocytes are exported as mature T cells. The remaining thymocytes die by one of two mechanisms; most thymocytes die because they are not positively selected and do not receive a survival signal, whereas a minority of thymocytes undergo T-cell receptor (TCR)-mediated apoptosis, a process known as negative selection. Negative selection is extremely important for establishing a functional immune system, as it provides an efficient mechanism for ridding the T-cell repertoire of self-reactive and potentially autoimmune lymphocytes. This review discusses several cellular and molecular aspects of negative selection.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Death
  • Clonal Deletion*
  • Models, Immunological
  • Signal Transduction
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Thymus Gland / cytology
  • Thymus Gland / immunology