The liver of C57BL/6 mice contains a major subset of CD4+8- and CD4-8- T cell receptor (TCR)-alpha/beta+ cells expressing the polymorphic natural killer NK1.1 surface marker. Liver NK1.1+TCR-alpha/beta+ (NK1+ T) cells require interaction with beta2-microglobulin-associated, major histocompatibility complex I-like molecules on hematopoietic cells for their development and have a TCR repertoire that is highly skewed to Vbeta8.2, Vbeta7, and Vbeta2. We show here that congenic C57BL/6.Vbeta(a) mice, which lack Vbeta8- expressing T cells owing to a genomic deletion at the Vbeta locus, maintain normal levels of liver NK1+ T cells owing to a dramatic increase in the proportion of cells expressing Vbeta7 and Vbeta2 (but not other Vbetas). Moreover, in C57BL/6 congenic TCR-V Vbeta3 and -Vbeta8.1 transgenic mice (which in theory should not express other Vbeta, owing to allelic exclusion at the TCR-beta locus), endogenous TCR-Vbeta8.2, Vbeta7, and Vbeta2 (but not other Vbetas) are frequently expressed on liver NK1+T cells but absent on lymph node T cells. Finally, when endogenous V beta expression is prevented in TCR-Vbeta3 and Vbeta8.1 transgenic mice (by introduction of a null allele at the C beta locus), the development of liver NK1+T cells is totally abrogated. Collectively, our data indicate that liver NK1+T cells have a stringent requirement for expression of TCR-Vbeta8.2, Vbeta7, or Vbeta2 for their development.

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