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We have examined the T cell receptor (TcR) expression of clones specific for epitopes of mycobacterial 65-kDa heat-shock protein (hsp65) in the context of two different HLA molecules, and used this system as a model to assess the selection of T cells responsive to this antigen in vivo. DR3-restricted clones were raised from both the synovial fluid (SF) and peripheral blood (PB) of a patient with reactive arthritis in three separate cloning events. Five of five SF-derived clones tested expressed either V beta 5.2 or a closely related beta chain, V beta 5.6. The alpha chains expressed by V beta 5.2+ and V beta 5.6+ clones were from different families, V alpha 2.4 and V alpha 23.2, respectively. Nine of ten clones derived from two cloning procedures on PB taken 3 years later also expressed either V beta 5.2 or V beta 5.6. This suggests that the TcR repertoire for recognizing this major histocompatibility complex/peptide complex is relatively restricted and favors the use of V beta 5. Conservation of the beta chain third complementarity-determining region (CDR3) sequence was not evident, however. Sequencing alpha and beta chains of representative V beta 5.2+ and V beta 5.6+ PB-derived clones revealed TcR which were identical to those utilized by the SF-derived clones, showing that the repertoire for recognition of this antigen is stable over time. Similar studies of TcR expression were carried out on hsp65-specific, DP4-restricted clones derived from the SF of a patient with rheumatoid arthritis by two independent cloning procedures. There was conservation of alpha chain usage, since all clones expressed a member of the V alpha 1 family, but again CDR3 sequence conservation was not apparent. beta chain usage was not restricted since different clones expressed V beta 6.7, V beta 22.3 and V beta 12. Subtle differences in epitope specificity were detected for two clones with differing TcR. Once more, T cell clones with identical alpha and beta TcR chains were obtained from the separate cloning procedures, suggesting oligoclonalty of T cells with this defined specificity in the patient's SF.

Original publication




Journal article


European journal of immunology

Publication Date





1256 - 1265


Department of Rheumatology, University of Birmingham, GB.


T-Lymphocytes, Clone Cells, Humans, Mycobacterium leprae, Arthritis, Peptides, Bacterial Proteins, Heat-Shock Proteins, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta, Oligodeoxyribonucleotides, Antigens, Bacterial, HLA-DP Antigens, HLA-DR3 Antigen, Epitopes, Polymerase Chain Reaction, Lymphocyte Activation, Gene Rearrangement, T-Lymphocyte, Amino Acid Sequence, Base Sequence, Molecular Sequence Data