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To analyse variation in T-cell receptor (TCR) Vβ gene expression in T cells in HIV-infected individuals.Because there are very few monoclonal antibodies available for studying TCR VP gene expression, we used polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to analyse the TCR Vβ repertoire in HIV-infected individuals using specific primers for 20 distinct families of TCR Vβ.Evaluation of TCR Vβ gene expression in peripheral blood from HIV-1-infected individuals [two in Centers for Disease Control (CDC) stage II, five in CDC stage III and four in CDC stage IV]. Complementary DNA was produced from CD4+ and CD8 + T cells, amplified by PCR and analysed after Southern blotting and hybridization with a Cp-specific oligonucleotide probe.Vβ gene expression was dramatically modified, especially in AIDS patients. The CD4+ T-cell subset showed both overexpression (Vβ2) and deletions or underexpression (Vβ9-Vβ20), whereas these gene segments were expressed normally in the CD8+ subset. Only Vβ 3 was deleted or underexpression in both CD4+ and CD8+ populations in AIDS patients.HIV-1 infection induces CD4+ T-cell deficiency, both in total numbers and by causing a paucity of select Vβ gene expression in this subset. In addition, the Vβ3 gene family was deleted or underexpressed was observed in both CD4+ and CD8 + T-cell subsets from patients in CDC stage IV. These results are compatible with changes in Vβ gene expression known to occur under the action of endogenous or exogenous superantigens.