We have investigated the development of CD4+ T cells in mice expressing low levels of transgenic class II MHC molecules (A(b)) preoccupied with covalent peptide (Ep), which in the presence of invariant chain (Ii) is extensively cleaved and replaced with self-derived peptides. In these mice, the transgenic A(b) molecules, bound with predominant peptide (Ep) and with multiple self-peptides, selected more CD4+ T cells than A(b)/self-peptide complexes expressed in wild-type mice. The enhanced outcome of thymic selection was a result of impaired negative selection, rather than more efficient positive selection by an overall lowered abundance of self-derived A(b)/peptide complexes. Peripheral CD4+ T cells in the A(b)EpIi+ mice had memory phenotype, often followed by polyclonal activation of B cells. The A(b)EpIi+ mice preserved their good health and had a normal life span despite the profound number of activated CD4+ T cells and B cells in peripheral lymphoid organs, moderate hypergammaglobulinemia, and deposited complexes in the kidneys. We propose that CD4+ T cells positively selected due to low avidity for high abundant A(b)Ep complex avoid negative selection on A(b) molecules loaded with low abundant peptides and become self-reactive in the peripheral lymphoid organs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy