The repertoire of T cells shaped by a single MHC/peptide ligand

Cell. 1996 Feb 23;84(4):521-9. doi: 10.1016/s0092-8674(00)81028-4.


Although the thymus produces many immature thymocytes, few of these cells mature. Positive selection has been thought to limit thymocyte development. In thymuses expressing a single MHC/peptide combination, however, surprisingly large numbers of thymocytes are selected to mature. Many of these react with the selecting MHC, bound to other self-peptides. Therefore, the number of thymocytes that mature is limited by the fact that positively selected cells die because they react too well with MHC bound to self-peptides that are not identical to those involved in positive selection. T cells that mature in thymuses expressing a single MHC/peptide ligand react frequently with foreign MHC, suggesting that the repertoire of alpha beta receptors may be more biased toward reaction with MHC than was previously thought.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD / genetics
  • Antigens, CD / immunology*
  • Antigens, Differentiation, B-Lymphocyte / genetics
  • Antigens, Differentiation, B-Lymphocyte / immunology*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / ultrastructure
  • Gene Expression Regulation / immunology
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / genetics
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / immunology*
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / physiology*
  • Hybridomas
  • Major Histocompatibility Complex / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Peptides / immunology
  • Peptides / metabolism
  • Protein Binding / immunology
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / immunology
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / ultrastructure
  • Transgenes / physiology


  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Differentiation, B-Lymphocyte
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • Peptides
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta
  • invariant chain