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The affinity of the MHC/peptide/TCR interaction is thought to be one factor determining the differentiation of CD4+ T cells into Th1 or Th2 phenotypes. To study whether CD4+ cells generated under conditions favoring Th1 or Th2 responses select structurally different TCRs, Th1 and Th2 clones and lines were generated from nonobese diabetic and nonobese diabetic H2-E transgenic mice against the peptides proteolipoprotein 56-70, glutamic acid decarboxylase(65) 524-543, and heat shock protein-60 peptides 168-186 and 248-264. Th1/Th2 polarization allowed the generation of clones and lines with fixed peptide specificity and class II restriction but differing in Th1/Th2 phenotype in which the impact on TCR selection and structure could be studied. The Th2 clones tended to use longer TCR complementarity-determining region (CDR)3alpha loops than their Th1 counterparts. This trend was confirmed by analyzing TCRalpha transcripts from Th1 and Th2 polarized, bulk populations. Molecular modeling of Th1- and Th2-derived TCRs demonstrated that Th2 CDR3alpha comprised larger side chain residues than Th1 TCRs. The elongated, bulky Th2 CDR3alpha loops may be accommodated at the expense of less optimal interactions between the MHC class II/peptide and other CDR loops of the TCR. We propose that CD4+ T cells selected from the available repertoire under Th2 polarizing conditions tend to have elongated TCR CDR3alpha loops predicted to alter TCR binding, reducing contact at other interfaces and potentially leading to impeded TCR triggering.


Journal article


J Immunol

Publication Date





1018 - 1027


Amino Acid Sequence, Animals, CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Cell Line, Chaperonin 60, Clone Cells, Complementarity Determining Regions, Cytokines, Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte, Genes, T-Cell Receptor alpha, Glutamate Decarboxylase, H-2 Antigens, Mice, Mice, Inbred NOD, Mice, Transgenic, Molecular Sequence Data, Myelin Proteolipid Protein, Peptide Fragments, Protein Structure, Tertiary, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta, Th1 Cells, Th2 Cells