The nucleotide sequences of 22 human T cell antigen receptor (TcR) beta chain variable region genes isolated from various T lymphocytes have been analyzed. Of the 19 variable gene segment (V beta)-containing sequences, 17 were unique. The V beta gene segments were grouped into 11 families. Comparisons were made with the data of Concannon et al. to unify the nomenclature. The data is consistent with a total V beta gene segment repertoire with a most probable value of 38 members and an upper bound of 104 members at the 95% confidence level. Southern blot data of germline DNA using selected TcR V beta cDNAs as probes support this estimate. The human repertoire is approximately three to four times greater than that reported for the mouse. Explanations for this discrepancy are proposed.

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