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Abstract

A human T cell receptor (TcR) α/β CD4+CD8 T cell clone (R416) is reactive with the minor histocompatibility antigen H-Y in the context of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I and not class II molecules. Therewith clone R416 violates the so-called specificity association of mature TcR α/β+ T cells. R416 displays H-Y-specific, HLA-A2-restricted proliferation as well as cytotoxicity in vitro. Its fine specificity is identical to that of a classical H-Y-reactive CD4CD8+ MHC class I-restricted CTL clone, showing that CTL expressing either CD4 or CD8 can display identical antigenic specificities. Exploiting the MHC class I restriction of this CD4+ T cell clone, it was found that interaction of CD4 with non-TcR-bound MHC class II molecules does not contribute to antigen specific activation of these CD4+ T cells. This coreceptor-mismatched T cell clone was not generated in vitro but obtained by expansion of CD8-depleted peripheral blood mononuclear cells of a female who had been immunized against H-Y. The existence of such MHC class I-restricted mature TcR α/β+ T cells expressing CD4 and not CD8 is relevant because it indicates that the generally accepted model for thymic selection, in which the TcR specificity alone determines CD4/CD8 expression of mature thymocytes, may not be absolute.