Repertoire breadth of human CD4+ T cells specific for HIV gp120 and p66 (Primary Antigens) or for PPD and tetanus toxoid (Secondary Antigens)

G. Li Pira, L. Oppezzi, M. Seri, M. Westby, F. Caroli, D. Fenoglio, F. Lancia, A. Ferraris, L. Bottone, M. T. Valle, A. Kunkl, G. Romeo, A. G. Dalgleish, F. Manca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Antigen derived peptides bound on MHC class II molecules on presenting cells stimulate specific CD4 lymphocytes that are in a naive state if antigen is given for the first time, or in a memory state if antigen has been previously encountered. In order to compare clonal heterogeneity of the human CD4+ T helper repertoire in primary vs. recall responses, we have generated T cell lines in vitro by repeated stimulation of peripheral lymphocytes with primary or with recall antigens. Clonal heterogeneity was broad in the case of recall response to tetanus toxoid or PPD, with a high frequency of specific precursors (>100 cells/106 lymphocytes). In contrast, T cell lines responsive to primary antigens (HIV gp120 or HIV p66) were oligoclonal as defined by TCR Vβ gene usage and by spectratyping, and the precursor frequency was low (6 lymphocytes). Primary T cell lines generated from blood samples drawn at different times from the same donor showed that clones with identical TCR CDR3 region coding sequences were expanded, suggesting that in these individuals a large progeny derived from one single precursor is present, even though a previous encounter with the antigen was not documented. Assuming an even in vivo distribution of such cells, the presence of one precursor every 106 CD4 lymphocytes (within the CD4 T repertoire that comprises roughly 1011 CD4 T cells) indicates that approximately 106 identical T cells from the same clonal precursor account for the primary response against the model antigens we have studied.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-148
Number of pages12
JournalHuman Immunology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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