Anti-TRBC1 Antibody-Based Flow Cytometric Detection of T-Cell Clonality: Standardization of Sample Preparation and Diagnostic Implementation

Cancers (Basel). 2021 Aug 30;13(17):4379. doi: 10.3390/cancers13174379.


A single antibody (anti-TRBC1; JOVI-1 antibody clone) against one of the two mutually exclusive T-cell receptor β-chain constant domains was identified as a potentially useful flow-cytometry (FCM) marker to assess Tαβ-cell clonality. We optimized the TRBC1-FCM approach for detecting clonal Tαβ-cells and validated the method in 211 normal, reactive and pathological samples. TRBC1 labeling significantly improved in the presence of CD3. Purified TRBC1+ and TRBC1- monoclonal and polyclonal Tαβ-cells rearranged TRBJ1 in 44/47 (94%) and TRBJ1+TRBJ2 in 48 of 48 (100%) populations, respectively, which confirmed the high specificity of this assay. Additionally, TRBC1+/TRBC1- ratios within different Tαβ-cell subsets are provided as reference for polyclonal cells, among which a bimodal pattern of TRBC1-expression profile was found for all TCRVβ families, whereas highly-variable TRBC1+/TRBC1- ratios were observed in more mature vs. naïve Tαβ-cell subsets (vs. total T-cells). In 112/117 (96%) samples containing clonal Tαβ-cells in which the approach was validated, monotypic expression of TRBC1 was confirmed. Dilutional experiments showed a level of detection for detecting clonal Tαβ-cells of ≤10-4 in seven out of eight pathological samples. These results support implementation of the optimized TRBC1-FCM approach as a fast, specific and accurate method for assessing T-cell clonality in diagnostic-FCM panels, and for minimal (residual) disease detection in mature Tαβ+ leukemia/lymphoma patients.

Keywords: JOVI-1; MRD1; T-CLPD; TCRVβ; TRBC1; TRBJ1 and TRBJ2; Tαβ-cells.