In the present study, we have characterized the reactivity of two mAbs that are directed at the human TCR-gamma/delta. These reagents, designated anti-A13 and anti-TiV delta 2, were found to recognize antigenic determinants encoded by the TCR V delta 1 and V delta 2 gene segments, respectively. Immunofluorescence analyses performed with the antibodies confirmed that, in the TCR-gamma/delta+ cell subpopulation, the expression of V delta 2+ delta chains is largely predominant, as compared with the V delta 1+ counterparts. However, these experiments led to an apparently discrepant finding. Indeed, the total number of cells recognized by the anti-A13 plus the anti-TiV delta 2 antibodies was often greater than that detected with anti-TCR-delta 1, a reagent specific for a constant epitope of the human delta chain. Further investigation showed that the presence of a sizeable peripheral lymphocyte subset coexpressing the BMA031 and the A13 epitopes. Because the former antibody is known to recognize an invariant antigenic determinant of the TCR-alpha/beta dimer, these results suggested that the V delta 1 gene segment may be expressed with either C delta or C alpha. This hypothesis was confirmed using T2, an IL-2-dependent BMA031+ A13+ polyclonal cell line developed from peripheral blood of a healthy adult donor. Indeed, T2 cells were found to have productively rearranged the V delta 1 gene. Together, results of Northern blot analysis and cDNA cloning indicated that V delta 1 was expressed in these cells as part of a 1.6-kb full-length message including J alpha-C alpha segments.

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