T cell receptor (TCR) δ gene rearrangements in intestinal intraepithelial lymphocytes (IEL) were studied in athymic radiation chimeras using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and sequence analyses of DNAs spanning the variable (V), diversity (D), and junctional (J) genes. In both thymus-bearing and athymic mice, IEL δ gene rearrangements occurred for Vδ3, Vδ4, Vδ5 and Vδ6. V-D-J junctional-site sequence analyses of cloned DNAs from rearranged IEL δ genes in athymic mice revealed a predominance of in-frame rearrangements; junctional diversity consisting of nucleotide removal from V, D and/or J genes; N segment nucleotide insertions; and high overall gene diversity. Evaluation of PCR-amplified cDNAs made from IEL RNA indicated that all four rearranged Vδ genes were expressed in IEL from athymic mice. The high diversity observed at the gene level also was present in amino acid sequences encoded by the V-D-J region of IEL δ genes in athymic mice. These data demonstrate that there is extensive diversity of rearranged δ genes in IEL which develop extrathymically, and suggest that the δ chain of IEL TCR-γδ+ T cells has the potential for interactions with polymorphic structures.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology