Polymorphism in the human T cell receptor beta chain (TCRB) gene complex includes haplotypes with different numbers of TCRBV genes. An insertion/deletion related polymorphism (IDRP) in the human TCRBV region was found to involve TCRBV gene segments. Inserted TCRB haplotypes contain an additional 21.5 kb in which three TCRBV genes are encoded, members of the TCRBV7, TCRBV9, and TCRBV13 families. Two TCRBV gene segments were present only in inserted haplotypes; one of these, TCRBV7S3, is a functional gene and the other, TCRBV9S2(P), is a pseudogene because of an inframe termination colon. In addition, inserted haplotypes contain two identical copies of the TCRBV13S2 gene, whereas deleted haplotypes have only one copy. Deleted haplotypes could be subdivided into two types, deleted*1 and deleted*2, on the basis of sequence variations in TCRBV6S7 and TCRBV13S2 genes. Both deleted*1 and deleted*2 haplotypes contained the same number of TCRBV genes; both contain 60 genes of which 50 are functional, whereas, inserted haplotypes contained 63 genes of which 52 are functional. Comparisons of inserted region sequences with the homologous region in a deleted haplotype, and with sequences surrounding related TCRBV genes, revealed patterns of similarity that suggest insertion as well as deletion events have occurred in the evolution of the TCRBV gene complex. These data indicate that the genomic TCR repertoire is expanded in individuals who have inserted TCRBV haplotypes. The presence of additional TCRBV genes or, alternatively, the absence of certain TCRBV genes may have an impact upon immune responses and susceptibility to autoimmune diseases.

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