The generation of mature T cells requires interaction of the alpha beta T-cell receptor with major histocompatibility antigens

Nature. 1989 Apr 13;338(6216):591-3. doi: 10.1038/338591a0.


THE T-cell repertoire within an individual is biased to recognize antigen in the context of self major histocompatibility complex (MHC) antigens. This is thought to depend on a process of positive selection during development. Support for this notion has recently been obtained in experiments using transgenic mice bearing genes for T-cell receptors (TCR) of defined specificity: T cells expressing the introduced genes form the main part of the mature T-cell population only in mice that express the appropriate MHC product. We have now extended these observations using TCR transgenic mice homozygous for the severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mutation which are defective in the rearrangement of both TCR and immunoglobulin genes. In this case mature thymocytes develop only in transgenic mice that express the MHC product which restricts the specificity of the transgenic TCR. This shows that the interaction of the alpha beta TCR with thymic MHC antigen is essential for the development of mature T cells. Furthermore, the peripheral lymph nodes of such mice are underdeveloped, suggesting that the peripheral expansion of mature T cells may require interactions with other lymphocytes expressing a range of receptors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Gene Rearrangement
  • Genes, Immunoglobulin
  • Histocompatibility Antigens / immunology*
  • Immunologic Deficiency Syndromes / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / genetics
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology*
  • Thymus Gland / cytology


  • Histocompatibility Antigens
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell