Alloreactive T lymphocytes are the primary mediators of immune responses in transplantation, both in the graft-versus-host and host-versus-graft directions. While essentially all clones comprising the human T cell repertoire have been selected on self-peptide presented by self–human leukocyte antigens (self-HLAs), much remains to be understood about the nature of clones capable of responding to allo-HLA molecules. Quantitative tools to study these cells are critical to understand fundamental features of this important response; however, the large size and diversity of the alloreactive T cell repertoire in humans presents a great technical challenge. We have developed a high-throughput T cell receptor (TCR) sequencing approach to characterize the human alloresponse. We present a statistical method to model T cell clonal frequency distribution and quantify repertoire diversity. Using these approaches, we measured the diversity and frequency of distinct alloreactive CD4+ and CD8+ T cell populations in HLA-mismatched responder-stimulator pairs. Our findings indicate that the alloimmune repertoire is highly specific for a given pair of individuals, that most alloreactive clones circulate at low frequencies, and that a high proportion of TCRs is likely able to recognize alloantigens.
Susan DeWolf, Boris Grinshpun, Thomas Savage, Sai Ping Lau, Aleksandar Obradovic, Brittany Shonts, Suxiao Yang, Heather Morris, Julien Zuber, Robert Winchester, Megan Sykes, Yufeng Shen