To reconstitute the human immune system in mice, transgenic mice expressing human CD4 and human major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II (DQw6) molecules in an endogenous CD4- and CD8-deficient background (mCD4/8-/-), after homologous recombination, have been generated. We report that expression of human CD4 molecule in mCD4/8-/- mice rescues thymocyte development and completely restores the T cell compartment in peripheral lymphoid organs. Upon vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) challenge, the reconstituted mature T cell population effectively provide T help to B cells in immunoglobulin class switching from IgM to specific IgG-neutralizing antibodies. Human CD4+DQw6+ double transgenic mice are tolerant to DQw6 and the DQw6 molecule functions in antigen presentation, effectively generating a human MHC class II-restricted T cell response to streptococcal M6C2 peptide. These data show that both the hCD4 and DQw6 molecules are functional in mCD4/8-/- mice, fully and stably reconstituting this limb of the human immune system in mice. This animal model provides a powerful in vivo tool to dissect the human CD4-human class II MHC interaction, especially its role in human autoimmune diseases, superantigen-mediated diseases, and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

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