High Frequency of Shared Clonotypes in Human T Cell Receptor Repertoires

Cell Rep. 2020 Jul 14;32(2):107882. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.107882.


The collection of T cell receptors (TCRs) generated by somatic recombination is large but unknown. We generate large TCR repertoire datasets as a resource to facilitate detailed studies of the role of TCR clonotypes and repertoires in health and disease. We estimate the size of individual human recombined and expressed TCRs by sequence analysis and determine the extent of sharing between individual repertoires. Our experiments reveal that each blood sample contains between 5 million and 21 million TCR clonotypes. Three individuals share 8% of TCRβ- or 11% of TCRα-chain clonotypes. Sorting by T cell phenotypes in four individuals shows that 5% of naive CD4+ and 3.5% of naive CD8+ subsets share their TCRβ clonotypes, whereas memory CD4+ and CD8+ subsets share 2.3% and 0.4% of their clonotypes, respectively. We identify the sequences of these shared TCR clonotypes that are of interest for studies of human T cell biology.

Keywords: CDR3; HLA; TCR; adaptive immunity; clonotypes; immune repertoire sequencing.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Clone Cells / metabolism*
  • DNA / genetics
  • Female
  • Genome, Human
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / chemistry
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / metabolism*
  • Young Adult


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta
  • DNA