The murine class I molecule H-2K(b) and its natural gene conversion variant, H-2K(bm8), which differs from H-2K(b) solely at 4 aa at the bottom of the peptide-binding B pocket, are expressed in coisogenic mouse strains C57BL/6 (B6) and B6.C-H-2(bm8) (bm8). These two strains provide an excellent opportunity to study the effects of Mhc class I polymorphism on the T cell repertoire. We recently discovered a gain in the antiviral CTL repertoire in bm8 mice as a consequence of the emergence of the Mhc class I allele H- 2K(bm8). In this report we sought to determine the mechanism behind the generation of this increased CTL diversity. Our results demonstrate that repertoire diversification occurred by a gain in intrathymic positive selection. As previously shown, the emergence of the same Mhc allele also caused a loss in positive selection of T cell repertoire specific for another Ag, OVA-8. This indicates that a reciprocal loss-and-gain pattern of intrathymic selection exists between H-2K(b) and H-2K(bm8). Therefore, in the thymus of an individual, a new Mhc allele can select new T cell specificities, while abandoning some T cell specificities selected by the wild-type allele. A byproduct of this repertoire shift is a net gain of T cell repertoire of the species, which is likely to improve its survival fitness.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy