TCR repertoire dynamics in the pancreatic lymph nodes of non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice at the time of disease initiation

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Mouse T-cell development is unfinished at birth and continues during the first month of life, when T cells exit from the thymus and colonize secondary hematopoietic organs to build up a peripheral T-cell repertoire. T-cell responses against β-cell-derived autoantigens are initiated in the pancreatic lymph nodes (PLN) of non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice during the same time period. We hypothesized that the combined effect of T-cell development and T-cell activation against tissue-specific antigens would create unique TCR repertoires in two different lymph node stations in NOD mice. To test this hypothesis, we determined the length distribution of the third complementarity-determining region (CDR3) of the TCR in the PLN and the inguinal lymph nodes (ILN) of 10, 14, 18 and 22-day-old NOD females. The analysis of all the BV genes revealed significant perturbations of the repertoire between days 10 and 22 but with no statistical differences between the PLN and ILN repertoires. In contrast, when a set of BV chains were amplified using BJ-specific primers, several unique TCR perturbations were observed in the PLN compared to the ILN. We propose that the TCR repertoire in peripheral lymph nodes of NOD mice develops dynamically between 10 and 22 days of age as a result of a developmental process. On top of that development, the local environment may fine-tune that repertoire, possibly by means of stimulation of T cells by tissue-specific antigens presented by local APC.

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