Characterization of transcripts from unrearranged Vα8 genes in the thymus

Philmore O. Holman, Matthew E. Roth, Min Huang, David M. Kranz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The genes that encode the α- and β-chains of the TCR undergo programmed rearrangement during differentiation of a T cell in the thymus, but it is not known what controls the order and specificity of the rearrangement event. By analogy with Ig genes, it is possible that transcription of an unrearranged V region gene may be necessary for "access" of the recombinase. To begin to address this issue, the six members of the Vα8 subfamily (five functional members and a pseudogene) from C57BI/6 mice were examined. Consistent with the "accessibility" model, we show that unrearranged Vα8 genes are specifically expressed in the thymus of adult mice. Each of the functional genes was transcribed, but at different levels in the thymus. The five Vα8 genes were identical through the first 50 nucleotides of the 3′ flanking region, and each contained an open reading frame that was contiguous with the V coding region. More interestingly, two of these putative proteins ended in Cys-X-Cys, a motif that is known to undergo isoprenoid modification. This finding and the conservation in the region that extends beyond the heptamer-nonamer region raise the possibility that some unrearranged V genes may encode proteins that have a novel function during early T cell development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1959-1967
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 15 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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