Previous studies have indicated that the diversity of gamma genes expressed by gamma/delta-bearing murine T cells is limited, but comparable information concerning the expressed diversity of delta genes is lacking. In this study, we have investigated the rearrangement and expression of delta and gamma genes in T cell hybridomas that express gamma/delta T cell receptors. Three productive delta chain cDNA clones were isolated (delta 7.3, delta 7.1, and delta 2.3) that encode new variable region sequences. Two of the delta cDNAs differ significantly from those observed in the V alpha repertoire. In addition, one cDNA expressed a new J delta region (J delta 2), which was localized between J delta 1 and C delta genes. Using these and other delta gene probes and gamma gene probes, we found that five independent hybridomas expressed four different V delta s and three different V gamma s. However, analysis of an enriched population of gamma/delta-expressing cells from the adult thymus suggests that only a few V delta genes and one V gamma gene are used by the majority of the cells. These results suggest that important components of receptor chain that contribute to specificity (i.e., the germline V gene sequences) are relatively nondiverse in the thymic gamma/delta population.

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