In-frame TCR delta gene rearrangements play a critical role in the alpha beta/gamma delta T cell lineage decision

Immunity. 1995 Jun;2(6):617-27. doi: 10.1016/1074-7613(95)90006-3.


Using a quantitative multiprobe Southern blot analysis, we demonstrate the surprising result that a significant proportion of alpha beta T cells and thymocytes retain T cell receptor delta locus sequences. A substantial portion of the retained delta locus is in a fully V-to-D-to-J rearranged configuration and 20% of these delta rearrangements are functional, significantly less than the 33% predicted for random gene rearrangements. Our observations are in conflict with the idea that alpha beta and gamma delta T cells derive from distinct precursors and suggest that commitment of a common precursor to the gamma delta lineage depends upon expression of a gamma delta T cell receptor. We propose that the intrathymic T cell lineage decision is determined by a competition between the production of functional gamma delta and beta-pre-T cell receptor complexes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Rearrangement, T-Lymphocyte / genetics*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred AKR
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / genetics*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta / genetics*
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology*


  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta