Repertoire of the alpha beta T-cell receptor in the intestine

C Probert, LJ Saubermann, S Balk, RS Blumberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


The majority of T cells in the human and mouse intestine express the T-cell receptor (TCR) as an alphabeta heterodimer on their cell surface. As the major recognition element of antigens in the context of major histocompatibility complex-derived proteins, an examination of the structure of the alpha beta TCR in intestines has provided significant insights into the potential function of these cells and the major determinants that drive their selection. Studies in the human intestine have shown that the repertoires of intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs), and likely lamina propria lymphocytes, are polyclonal before and shortly after birth, with the repertoire becoming oligoclonal in adults. Similarly, in adult mice the repertoire is oligoclonal, while in the newborn it is polyclonal. Investigations in mice have shown that some T cells may evade thymic selection. The population size and oligoclonality of IELs is influenced by the microbial content of the luminal microenvironment. This microenvironment probably directly determines the TCR repertoire. Studies in human inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) indicate that inflammation further skews the TCR repertoire. We speculate that dominant antigens associated with the pathogenesis of IBD are responsible for such skewing and that identifying the antigenic drivers may shed light on the environmental factors that trigger or potentiate human IBD.
Translated title of the contributionRepertoire of the alpha beta T-cell receptor in the intestine
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215 - 225
Number of pages11
JournalImmunology Reviews
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007


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