Journal of Statistical Physics

, Volume 149, Issue 2, pp 203–219 | Cite as

The Influence of T Cell Development on Pathogen Specificity and Autoreactivity

  • Andrej Košmrlj
  • Mehran KardarEmail author
  • Arup K. ChakrabortyEmail author


T cells orchestrate adaptive immune responses upon activation. T cell activation requires sufficiently strong binding of T cell receptors on their surface to short peptides derived from foreign proteins bound to protein products of the major histocompatibility (MHC) gene products, which are displayed on the surface of antigen presenting cells. T cells can also interact with peptide-MHC complexes, where the peptide is derived from host (self) proteins. A diverse repertoire of relatively self-tolerant T cell receptors is selected in the thymus. We study a model, computationally and analytically, to describe how thymic selection shapes the repertoire of T cell receptors, such that T cell receptor recognition of pathogenic peptides is both specific and degenerate. We also discuss the escape probability of autoimmune T cells from the thymus.


Statistical mechanics Thymic selection T cell pathogen specificity Autoimmune T cells 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhysicsHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Department of PhysicsMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.Departments of Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Biological EngineeringMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  4. 4.Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, & HarvardBostonUSA

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