The specificity of recognition of pMHC complexes by T lymphocytes is determined by the V regions of the TCR α- and β-chains. Recent experimental evidence has suggested that Ag-specific TCR repertoires may exhibit a more Vα- than Vβ-restricted usage. Whether Vα usage is narrowed during immune responses to Ag or if, on the contrary, restricted Vα usage is already defined at the early stages of TCR repertoire selection, however, has remained unexplored. Here, we analyzed V and CDR3 TCR regions of single circulating naive T cells specifically detected ex vivo and isolated with HLA-A2/melan-A peptide multimers. Similarly to what was previously observed for melan-A-specific Ag-experienced T cells, we found a relatively wide Vβ usage, but a preferential Vα 2.1 usage. Restricted Vα 2.1 usage was also found among single CD8+ A2/melan-A multimer+ thymocytes, indicating that Vα-restricted selection takes place in the thymus. Vα 2.1 usage, however, was independent from functional avidity of Ag recognition. Thus, interaction of the pMHC complex with selected Vα-chains contributes to set the broad Ag specificity, as underlined by preferential binding of A2/melan-A multimers to Vα 2.1-bearing TCRs, whereas functional outcomes result from the sum of these with other interactions between pMHC complex and TCR.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy