T-cell receptor ligation by peptide/MHC induces activation of a caspase in immature thymocytes: The molecular basis of negative selection

Linda K. Clayton, Yoseph Ghendler, Emiko Mizoguchi, Raymond J. Patch, Timothy D. Ocain, Kim Orth, Atul K. Bhan, Vishva M. Dixit, Ellis L. Reinherz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations

Abstract

T-cell receptors (TCRs) are created by a stochastic gene rearrangement process during thymocyte development, generating thymocytes bearing useful, as well as unwanted, specificities. Within the latter group, autoreactive thymocytes arise which are subsequently eliminated via a thymocyte-specific apoptotic mechanism, termed negative selection. The molecular basis of this deletion is unknown. Here, we show that TCR triggering by peptide/MHC ligands activates a caspase in double-positive (DP) CD4+ CD8+ thymocytes, resulting in their death. Inhibition of this enzymatic activity prevents antigen-induced death of DP thymocytes in fetal thymic organ culture (FTOC) from TCR transgenic mice as well as apoptosis induced by anti-CD3ε monoclonal antibody and corticosteroids in FTOC of normal C57BL/6 mice. Hence, a common caspase mediates immature thymocyte susceptibility to cell death.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2282-2293
Number of pages12
JournalEMBO Journal
Volume16
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 1997

Keywords

  • Apoptosis
  • Caspase
  • Negative selection
  • Thymus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)

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