UMMS Affiliation

Department of Pathology

Publication Date


Document Type



Animals; Antigens; Biomarkers; Histocompatibility Antigens; Humans; Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta; T-Lymphocytes; Thymus Gland


Immunity | Immunopathology | Pathology


The diversity of antigen receptors and the specificity it underlies are the hallmarks of the cellular arm of the adaptive immune system. T and B lymphocytes are indeed truly unique in their ability to generate receptors capable of recognizing virtually any pathogen. It has been known for several decades that T lymphocytes recognize short peptides derived from degraded proteins presented by major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules at the cell surface. Interaction between peptide-MHC (pMHC) and the T cell receptor (TCR) is central to both thymic selection and peripheral antigen recognition. It is widely assumed that TCR diversity is required, or at least highly desirable, to provide sufficient immune coverage. However, a number of immune responses are associated with the selection of predictable, narrow, or skewed repertoires and public TCR chains. Here, we summarize the current knowledge on the formation of the TCR repertoire and its maintenance in health and disease. We also outline the various molecular mechanisms that govern the composition of the pre-selection, naive and antigen-specific TCR repertoires. Finally, we suggest that with the development of high-throughput sequencing, common TCR 'signatures' raised against specific antigens could provide important diagnostic biomarkers and surrogate predictors of disease onset, progression and outcome.


T cell receptor (TCR), TCR repertoire, TCR diversity, TCR clonotype, TCR bias, Deep sequencing

Rights and Permissions

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit

DOI of Published Version



Cell Mol Immunol. 2015 Jul;12(4):391-9. doi: 10.1038/cmi.2014.134. Epub 2015 Jan 26. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Cellular and molecular immunology

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.