Molecular analysis of the human gamma-chain T cell receptor genes

George Mathioudakis, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


In our studies we have focused on the issue of variability and diversity of the $\gamma$ (or $\delta)$ chain T cell receptor (TCR) genes by studying cDNA transcripts in peripheral blood mononuclear cells or $\gamma\delta$ TCR+ T cell clones. The significance of these studies lies in the better understanding of the molecular biology of the $\gamma\delta$ T cell receptor as well as in answering the question whether certain molecular forms predominate in $\gamma\delta$ T cells exhibiting specific immunologic functions. We establish that certain $\gamma$-chain TCR genes exhibit particular patterns of rearrangements in cDNA transcripts in normal individuals. V$\gamma$I subgroup were shown to preferentially rearrange to J$\gamma$2C$\gamma$2 gene segments. These preferential VJC rearrangements, may have implications regarding the potential for diversity and polymorphism of the $\gamma$-chain TCR gene. In addition, the preferential association of V$\gamma$I genes with J$\gamma$2C$\gamma$2, which encode a non-disulfide-linked $\gamma\delta$ TCR, suggests that $\gamma$ chains utilizing V$\gamma$I are predominantly expressed as non-disulfide-linked $\gamma\delta$ TCR heterodimers. The implications of this type of expression remain to be determined. We identified two alternative splicing events of the $\gamma$-chain TCR genes occurring in high frequency in all the normal individuals examined. These events may suggest additional mechanisms of regulation and control as well as diversification of $\gamma\delta$ TCR gene expression. The question whether particular forms of $\gamma$ or $\delta$-chain TCR genes are involved in HLA Class I recognition by specific $\gamma\delta$ cytotoxic T cell clones was addressed. Our results indicated that the T cell clones expressed identical $\gamma$ but distinct $\delta$-chains suggesting that the specificity for recognition of HLA-A2 or HLA-A3 may be conferred by the $\delta$-chain TCR. The issue of the degree of diversity and polymorphism of the $\delta$-chain TCR genes in a patient with a primary immunodeficiency (Omenn's syndrome) was addressed. A limited pattern of rearrangements in peripheral blood transcripts was found, suggesting that a limited $\gamma\delta$ TCR repertoire may be expressed in this particular primary immunodeficiency syndrome. Overall, our findings suggest that $\delta$-chain TCR genes exhibit the potential for significant diversity and that there are certain preferential patterns of expression that may be associated with particular immunologic functions.

Subject Area

Immunology|Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Mathioudakis, George, "Molecular analysis of the human gamma-chain T cell receptor genes" (1996). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9732773.