A clonotype nomenclature for T cell receptors

Immunogenetics. 2009 Jul;61(7):493-502. doi: 10.1007/s00251-009-0383-x. Epub 2009 Jul 1.


T cell receptor (TCR) nucleotide sequences are often generated during analyses of T cell responses to pathogens or autoantigens. The most important region of the TCR is the third complementarity-determining region (CDR3) whose nucleotide sequence is unique to each T cell clone. The CDR3 interacts with the peptide and thus is important for recognizing pathogen or autoantigen epitopes. While conventions exist for identifying the various TCR chains, there is a lack of a concise nomenclature that would identify both the amino acid translation and nucleotide sequence of the CDR3. This deficiency makes the comparison of published TCR genetic and proteomic information difficult. To enhance information sharing among different databases and to facilitate computational assessment of clonotypic T cell repertoires, we propose a clonotype nomenclature. The rules for generating a clonotype identifier are simple and easy to follow, and have a built-in error-checking system. The identifier includes the V and J region, the CDR3 length as well as its human or mouse origin. The framework of this naming system could also be expanded to the B cell receptor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Codon / genetics
  • Complementarity Determining Regions
  • Gene Rearrangement, T-Lymphocyte
  • Genes, T-Cell Receptor
  • Humans
  • Immunogenetic Phenomena
  • Mice
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / chemistry
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / classification
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / genetics*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Terminology as Topic


  • Codon
  • Complementarity Determining Regions
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell