MHC class II molecules are not required for survival of newly generated CD4+ T cells, but affect their long-term life span

Immunity. 1996 Sep;5(3):217-28. doi: 10.1016/s1074-7613(00)80317-9.


We grafted fetal thymi from wild-type mice into immunodeficient RAG-2-/- or class II-/-RAG-2-/- (class II MHC-) recipients and followed the fate of naive CD4+ T cells derived from the grafts. In both types of recipients, newly generated CD4+ T cells proliferated to the same extent in the periphery and rapidly filled the empty T cell compartment. However, CD4+ T cells in class II- recipients gradually decreased in number over 6 months. These results show that interactions between the TCR and class II molecules are not required for newly generated CD4+ T cells to survive and proliferate, but are necessary to maintain the size of the peripheral T cell pool for extended periods.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD3 Complex / analysis
  • CD4 Antigens / analysis
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / physiology*
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / physiology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Mice
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / analysis
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / physiology
  • Thymus Gland / transplantation


  • CD3 Complex
  • CD4 Antigens
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta