• Acute cellular rejection;
  • BKV;
  • differential diagnosis;
  • kidney transplantation;
  • next generation sequencing;
  • polyoma


Clonotype analysis is essential for complete characterization of antigen-specific T cells. Moreover, knowledge on clonal identity allows tracking of antigen-specific T cells in whole blood and tissue infiltrates and can provide information on antigenic specificity. Here, we developed a next generation sequencing (NGS)-based platform for the highly quantitative clonotype characterization of T cells and determined requirements for the unbiased characterization of the input material (DNA, RNA, ex vivo derived or cell culture expanded T cells). Thereafter we performed T cell receptor (TCR) repertoire analysis of various specimens in clinical settings including cytomegalovirus (CMV), polyomavirus BK (BKV) reactivation and acute cellular allograft rejection. Our results revealed dynamic nature of virus-specific T cell clonotypes; CMV reactivation was linked to appearance of new highly abundant antigen-specific clonalities. Moreover, analysis of clonotype overlap between BKV-, alloantigen-specific T cell–, kidney allograft- and urine-derived lymphocytes provided hints for the differential diagnosis of allograft dysfunction and enabled appropriate therapy adjustment. We believe that the established approach will provide insights into the regulation of virus-specific/anti-tumor immunity and has high diagnostic potential in the clinical routine.