Dual TCRα-expressing T cells outnumber dual TCRβ-expressing cells by ∼10:1. As a result, efforts to understand how dual TCR T cells impact immunity have focused on dual TCRα expression; dual TCRβ expression remains understudied. We recently demonstrated, however, that dual TCRβ expression accelerated disease in a TCR transgenic model of autoimmune arthritis through enhanced positive selection efficiency, indicating that dual TCRβ expression, though rare, can impact thymic selection. Here we generated mice hemizygous for TCRα, TCRβ, or both on the C57BL/6 background to investigate the impact bi-allelic TCR chain recombination has on T cell development, repertoire diversity, and autoimmunity. Lack of bi-allelic TCRα or TCRβ recombination reduced αβ thymocyte development efficiency, and the absence of bi-allelic TCRβ recombination promoted γδ T cell development. However, we observed no differences in the numbers of naïve and expanded antigen- specific T cells between TCRα+/-β+/- and wildtype mice, and TCR repertoire analysis revealed only subtle differences in Vβ gene usage. Finally, the absence of dual TCR T cells did not impact induced experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis pathogenesis. Thus, despite more stringent allelic exclusion of TCRβ relative to TCRα, bi-allelic TCRβ expression can measurably impact thymocyte development and is necessary for maintaining normal αβ/γδ T cell proportions.
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© 2015 Schuldt et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.