Molecular measurement of T cell receptor excision circles.
This chapter provides protocols necessary for quantifying human, mouse, and nonhuman primate signal joint T cell receptor excision circles (sjTRECs) produced during T cell receptor alpha (TCRA) gene rearrangement. These non-replicated episomal circles of DNA are generated by the recombination process used to produce antigen-specific T cell receptors. The number of sjTRECs per mg of thymus tissue or per 100,000 lysed cells has been shown to be a molecular marker of thymopoiesis and naïve T cells. This technology is beneficial to investigators interested in quantitating the level of naïve T cell production occurring under various circumstances in a variety of systems, and complements traditional phenotypic analyses of thymopoiesis. This chapter specifically describes procedures required for rapid detection and quantitation of sjTRECs in thymus tissue or isolated cells using real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The sjTREC assay system comprises species-specific forward and reverse primers for amplification of a unique site on the T cell receptor δ (TCRD) sjTREC, a fluorescently labeled (FAM/ZEN/IABkFQ) species-specific real-time probe, and a species-specific sjTREC DNA plasmid standard for quantitation.
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