Two types of human TCR differentially regulate reactivity to self and non-self antigens
A new bioinformatics analysis of TCR sequences by Assya Trofimov reveals two main classes of functionally distinct TCRs. Her paper, in collaboration with researchers from Claude Perreault’s lab, is available on the BioRXiv preprint server following this link.
Based on analyses of TCR sequences from over 1,000 individuals, we report that the TCR repertoire is composed of two ontogenically and functionally distinct types of TCRs. Their production is regulated by variations in thymic output and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TDT) activity. Neonatal TCRs derived from TDT-negative progenitors persist throughout life, are highly shared among subjects, and are polyreactive to self and microbial antigens. Thus, >50% of cord blood TCRs are responsive to SARS-CoV2 and other common pathogens. TDT- dependent TCRs present distinct structural features and are less shared among subjects. TDT- dependent TCRs are produced in maximal numbers during infancy when thymic output and TDT activity reach a summit, are more abundant in subjects with AIRE mutations, and seem to play a dominant role in graft-versus-host disease. Factors decreasing thymic output (age, male sex) negatively impact TCR diversity. Males compensate for their lower repertoire diversity via hyperexpansion of selected TCR clonotypes.