The cellular basis of neonatally induced T cell tolerance has been investigated in a model system in which usage of a particular TCR V beta segment (V beta 6) is strongly correlated with reactivity to antigens encoded by the Mlsa genetic locus. Expression of V beta 6 by peripheral T cells was virtually abolished in BALB/c (H-2d, Mlsb) mice rendered neonatally tolerant to DBA/2 (H-2d, Mlsa) lymphoid cells, whereas control V beta 8-bearing T cells remained at near normal levels. Further analysis revealed that elimination of V beta 6+ T cells occurred in the thymus of neonatally tolerant mice and could not be explained by receptor modulation or T cell chimerism. These data thus support the clonal deletion model of tolerance induction.

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