, Volume 55, Issue 1-3, pp 116-124
Date: 06 Sep 2012

SLAP deficiency increases TCR avidity leading to altered repertoire and negative selection of cognate antigen-specific CD8+ T cells

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How T cell receptor (TCR) avidity influences CD8+ T cell development and repertoire selection is not yet fully understood. To fill this gap, we utilized Src-like adaptor protein (SLAP)-deficient mice as a tool to increase TCR avidity on double positive (DP) thymocytes. We generated SLAP−/− mice with the transgenic MHC class I-restricted TCR (OT-1) and SLAP−/− Vβ5 mice, expressing only the β-chain of the TCR OT-1 transgene, to examine the effects of increased TCR surface levels on CD8+ T cell development and repertoire selection. In comparing SLAP−/− OT-1 and Vβ5 mice with wild-type controls, we performed compositional analysis and assessed thymocyte signaling by measuring CD5 levels. In addition, we performed tetramer and compositional staining to measure affinity for the cognate antigen, ovalbumin (OVA) peptide, presented by MHC. Furthermore, we quantified differences in α-chain repertoire in SLAP−/− Vβ5 mice. We have found that SLAP−/− OT-1 mice have fewer CD8+ thymocytes but have increased CD5 expression. SLAP−/− OT-1 mice have fewer DP thymocytes expressing Vα2, signifying increased endogenous α-chain rearrangement, and more non-OVA-specific CD8+ splenocytes upon tetramer staining. Our data demonstrate that SLAP−/− Vβ5 mice also have fewer OVA-specific cells and increased Vα2 usage in the peripheral Vβ5 CD8+ T cells that were non-OVA-specific, demonstrating differences in α-chain repertoire. These studies provide direct evidence that increased TCR avidity in DP thymocytes enhances CD8+ T cell negative selection deleting thymocytes with specificity for cognate antigen, an antigen the mature T cells may never encounter. Collectively, these studies provide new insights into how TCR avidity during CD8+ T cell development influences repertoire selection.