Gamma/delta T cells and alpha/beta T cells differ in their developmental patterns of receptor expression and modulation requirements.

Academic Article


  • Measurement of the cell surface levels of gamma/delta (TcR 1) and alpha/beta (TcR 2) T cell receptors in the chicken revealed that thymocyte subpopulations that express these receptor isotypes differ remarkably in their rates of receptor acquisition. Whereas TcR 1 expression was relatively high (greater than 10(4) sites per cell) beginning on day 12 of embryonic life, the initial levels of TcR 2 expression on embryonic thymocytes were relatively low (approximately 10(3) sites per cell) when first measurable on day 15, and increased gradually as a function of T cell maturation. In peripheral tissues, the TcR 1 cells also expressed higher receptor levels than did the TcR 2 cells, but the difference was only 2-3-fold. The TcR 2 receptors on immature T cells could be easily modulated by receptor cross-linkage, very much like immunoglobulin receptors on immature B cells. While the TcR 2 receptor modulation occurred within minutes, TcR 1 receptor modulation required several hours for completion, even in the embryonic thymus. The data indicate very different developmental programs for TcR 1 and TcR 2 expression, and suggest fundamental differences in clonal selection modes for the two T cell subpopulations.
  • Authors

    Published In


  • Animals, Antibodies, Monoclonal, Cell Differentiation, Chick Embryo, Chickens, Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Immunophenotyping, Intestines, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta, Spleen, T-Lymphocyte Subsets, Thymus Gland
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • George JF; Cooper MD
  • Start Page

  • 2177
  • End Page

  • 2181
  • Volume

  • 20
  • Issue

  • 10