Collagen type II-induced arthritis (CIA) is generated in susceptible rodent strains by intradermal injections of homologous or heterologous native type II collagen in complete Freund's adjuvant. Symptoms of CIA are analogous to those of the human autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis. CIA is a model system for T cell-mediated autoimmune disease. To study the T cell receptor (TCR) repertoire of bovine type II-specific T cells that may be involved in the pathogenesis of CIA in DBA/1Lac.J (H-2q) mice, 13 clonally distinct T cell hybridomas specific for bovine type II collagen have been established and the alpha and beta chains of their TCRs have been analyzed. These T cell hybridomas recognize epitopes that are shared by type II collagens from distinct species and not by type I collagens, and exhibit a highly restricted TCR-alpha/beta repertoire. The alpha chains of the TCRs employ three V alpha gene subfamilies (V alpha 11, V alpha 8, and V alpha 22) and four J alpha gene segments (J alpha 42, J alpha 24, J alpha 37, and J alpha 32). The V alpha 22 is a newly identified subfamily consisting of approximately four to six members, and exhibits a high degree of polymorphism among four mouse strains of distinct V alpha haplotypes. In addition, the beta chains of the TCRs employ three V beta gene subfamilies (V beta 8, V beta 1, and V beta 6), however the V beta 8.2 gene segment is preferentially utilized (58.3%). In contrast, the J beta gene segment usage is more heterogeneous. On the basis of the highly limited TCR-alpha/beta repertoire of the TCRs of the panel of bovine type II-specific T cell hybrid clones, a significant reduction (60%) of the incidence of arthritis in DBA/1Lac.J mice is accomplished by the use of anti-V beta 8.2 antibody therapy.

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