Domain-specific and stage-intrinsic changes in Tcrb conformation during thymocyte development

Kinjal Majumder, Levi J. Rupp, Katherine S. Yang-Iott, Olivia I. Koues, Katherine E. Kyle, Craig H. Bassing, Eugene M. Oltz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Considerable cross-talk exists between mechanisms controlling genome architecture and gene expression. AgR loci are excellent models for these processes because they are regulated at both conformational and transcriptional levels to facilitate their assembly by V(D)J recombination. Upon commitment to the double-negative stage of T cell development, Tcrb adopts a compact conformation that promotes long-range recombination between Vβ gene segments (Trbvs) and their DβJβ targets. Formation of a functional VβDβJβ join signals for robust proliferation of double-negative thymocytes and their differentiation into doublepositive (DP) cells, where Trbv recombination is squelched (allelic exclusion). DP differentiation also is accompanied by decontraction of Tcrb, which has been thought to separate the entire Trbv cluster from DβJβ segments (spatial segregation-based model for allelic exclusion). However, DP cells also repress transcription of unrearranged Trbvs, which may contribute to allelic exclusion. We performed a more detailed study of developmental changes in Tcrb topology and found that only the most distal portion of the Trbv cluster separates from DβJβ segments in DP thymocytes, leaving most Trbvs spatially available for rearrangement. Preferential dissociation of distal Trbvs is independent of robust proliferation or changes in transcription, chromatin, or architectural factors, which are coordinately regulated across the entire Trbv cluster. Segregation of distal Trbvs also occurs on alleles harboring a functional VβDβJβ join, suggesting that this process is independent of rearrangement status and is DP intrinsic. Our finding that most Trbvs remain associated with DβJβ targets in DP cells revises allelic exclusion models from their current conformation-dominant to a transcription-dominant formulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1262-1272
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015

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