The selection of T cell clones with mutations in the hypoxanthine guanine phosphoribosyltransferase (hprt) gene has been used to isolate T cells reactive to myelin basic protein (MBP) in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). These T cell clones are activated in vivo, and are not found in healthy individuals. The third complementarity determining regions (CDR3) of the T cell receptor (TCR) alpha and beta chains are the putative contact sites for peptide fragments of MBP bound in the groove of the HLA molecule. The TCR V gene usage and CDR3s of these MBP-reactive hprt-T cell clones are homologous to TCRs from other T cells relevant to MS, including T cells causing experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE) and T cells found in brain lesions and in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of MS patients. In vivo activated MBP-reactive T cells in MS patients may be critical in the pathogenesis of MS.
M Allegretta, R J Albertini, M D Howell, L R Smith, R Martin, H F McFarland, S Sriram, S Brostoff, L Steinman