TAP1–/– mice present oligoclonal BV-BJ expansions following the rejection of grafts bearing self antigens

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Our previous work showed that transporter associated with antigen processing 1 (TAP1)–/– (H-2b) mice rejected grafts from H-2b mice which display a normal density of class I major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules at the cell surface. Our results indicated that H-2b molecules themselves may be a target in this kind of rejection and that CD4+ T cells play a major role in this autoreactive process. Our data also suggested that TAP1–/– mice, in addition to the well-recognized phenotype of class I and CD8+ T-cell deficiency, present a functional alteration in their autoreactive CD4+ T-cell repertoires. In this model of inflammatory autoreactivity to modified self, we have analysed T-cell receptor (TCR) V-beta–J-beta (BV-BJ) usage by complementarity determining region 3 (CDR3) length spectratyping in splenocytes from naïve TAP1–/– mice and transplanted TAP1–/– mice that rejected B6 heart grafts or responded to synthetic self H-2Kb peptides. Importantly, oligoclonal T-cell expansions shared by different animals were detected in the peripheral T-cell repertoire of transplanted TAP1–/– mice. Such public expansions were also induced in vitro by H-2Kb peptides, suggesting that dominant class I peptides can induce preferential expansions of restricted T-cell populations during rejection. Some of these public T-cell expansions were also detected in transplanted mice even before in vitro stimulation with peptides, indicating that post-transplantation expansion of these populations had occurred in vivo. The functional activity of these T-cell populations awaits elucidation, as do the underlying mechanisms involved in the inflammatory autoreactive process, in TAP1–/– mice.

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