Environmental and allele-specific influences on T cell receptor gene rearrangement: skewed α, δ and γ gene rearrangement patterns in chimeric mice
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This study was performed as a means to examine the effects of environment and stem cell origin on the molding of T cell receptor gene rearrangements during T cell development. Lethally irradiated adult mice were first reconstituted with (C57BL/6 x DBA/2)F1 stem cells, which derived either from a fetal liver or adult bone marrow source. The gene rearrangements in the irradiated thymi were then compared to those in normal fetal or adult thymi by hybridoma analysis. Results showed a general absence of gene rearrangements typical of the normal fetal thymus in both sets of chimeras. alpha and gamma gene rearrangements in chimeric mice matched normal adult patterns. However, chimeric thymocytes were unique in an unusually low frequency of rearrangements at the delta locus. The use of the bone marrow vs. fetal liver as stem cell sources in chimeric mice did not affect the patterns, indicating that environmental factors played a major role in the molding of gene rearrangement at multiple T cell receptor loci. Interestingly, the chromosomal sequence added an additional influence as homologous chromosomes showed allele-specific rearrangement patterns. We now question whether the unique patterns of rearrangement in irradiated adult thymi may substantially affect developing T cell populations in chimeric animals, particularly with regard to the gamma/delta T cell subset. Further analyses are warranted, both in experimental and clinical settings, regarding ultimate potentials for T cell diversity and function in transplantation recipients.