We analyzed the V gamma and V delta gene usage in TCR-gamma/delta-bearing T cell clones isolated from human peripheral blood and postnatal thymus using V-specific mAbs and Southern and Northern analyses. In peripheral blood most of the gamma/delta cells express the V gamma 9-JP-C gamma 1 chain paired with a delta chain bearing the V delta 2 gene product. This heterodimer is very rare in the postnatal thymus, where a different and less restricted pairing of V gamma 9 and V delta 2 chains is found. These findings indicate that physical constraints cannot explain the overrepresentation of a particular V gamma 9-JP/V delta 2 heterodimer in the peripheral blood, and we discuss alternative mechanisms that may account for this differential distribution. In addition, this analysis allowed us to map the specificity of the delta TCS1 mAb to V delta 1-J delta 1 and to identify at least five different expressed V delta genes.

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