Southern blot hybridizations with human T cell receptor V beta gene probes were used to determine the sizes of the various V beta gene subfamilies. An analysis of DNA samples from 100 unrelated individuals identified a single individual who lacked one V beta gene segment. A second individual had an apparently different repertoire of V beta gene segments in one subfamily, as assayed by hybridization, possibly due to a gene conversion event. An analysis with four restriction enzymes of DNA from 30 consanguineous donors detected restriction fragment length polymorphisms associated with 12 of 14 V beta gene segment subfamilies examined. In an analysis of DNAs from a large panel of unrelated individuals, some alleles at these loci were found to be in linkage disequilibrium, indicating a potentially close physical linkage. The segregation of three polymorphisms, two associated with V beta gene segment loci and one associated with the C beta genes, was compatible with Mendelian inheritance, and demonstrated that highly informative haplotypes could be generated. The high degree of polymorphism observed in the human T cell receptor beta chain complex should allow exploration of possible associations between T cell receptor genes and inherited diseases involving the immune system.

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