The role of the T-cell receptor (TCR) in commitment of thymocytes to regulatory CD4 + Foxp3 + and conventional CD4 + Foxp3- T-cell lineages remains controversial. According to the prevailing view, commitment to the former lineage, in contrast to the latter, requires that high affinity TCRs bind rare class II MHC/peptide complexes presented in thymic niches, which could explain differences between their TCR repertoires. Here we challenge this view and show that the binding of identical TCRs to the same ubiquitously expressed MHC/peptide complex often directs thymocytes to both CD4+ lineages, indicating that the TCR affinity does not play the instructive role, and that restricted presentation of peptides in thymic niches is not necessary for selection of CD4 + Foxp3 + T cells. However, depending on whether immature thymocytes bound the ligand predominantly with low or high affinity, the repertoires of regulatory and conventional CD4+T cells were correspondingly similar or mostly different, suggesting that negative rather than positive selection sets them apart.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)