To study central tolerance to the major product of ongoing apoptosis in the thymus, we made new lines of transgenic (Tg) mice expressing TCR of a pathogenic autoantibody-inducing Th cell that was specific for nucleosomes and its histone peptide H471-94. In the lupus-prone (SWR × NZB)F1 (SNF1) thymus, introduction of the lupus TCR transgene caused no deletion, but marked down-regulation of the Tg TCR and up-regulation of endogenous TCRs. Paradoxically, autoimmune disease was suppressed in the αβTCR Tg SNF1 mice with induction of highly potent regulatory T cells in the periphery. By contrast, in the MHC-matched, normal (SWR × B10. D2)F1 (SBF1), or in the normal SWR backgrounds, marked deletion of transgenic thymocytes occurred. Thymic lymphoid cells of the normal or lupus-prone mice were equally susceptible to deletion by anti-CB3 Ab or irradiation. However, in the steady state, spontaneous presentation of naturally processed peptides related to the nucleosomal autoepitope was markedly greater by thymic dendritic cells (DC) from normal mice than that from lupus mice. Unmanipulated thymic DC of SNF 1 mice expressed lesser amounts of MHC class II and costimulatory molecules than their normal counterparts. These results indicate that apoptotic nucleosomal autoepitopes are naturally processed and presented to developing thymocytes, and a relative deficiency in the natural display of nucleosomal autoepitopes by thymic DC occurs in lupus-prone SNF1 mice.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy