Allelic exclusion of the T cell receptor alpha-chain: developmental regulation of a post-translational event.
Allelic exclusion of the alpha and beta chains of the T cell receptor is maintained by different mechanisms. Exclusion of the beta-chain is primarily by allowing the successful rearrangement of only one of the two beta-chain loci. In the case of the alpha-chain, rearrangement on both chromosomes is very common, as is expression of alpha-chain mRNA and protein encoded by both loci. For the most part, however, functional alpha-chain allelic exclusion is maintained at the cell surface after positive selection in the thymus. The mechanism by which this is accomplished is not yet known, but recent evidence indicates that it is an active process coupled to signalling through the T cell receptor.
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