Selection of biased T cell receptor (TCR) repertoires across individuals is seen in both infectious diseases and autoimmunity, but the underlying molecular basis leading to these shared repertoires remains unclear. Celiac disease (CD) occurs primarily in HLA-DQ2.5+ individuals and is characterized by a CD4+ T cell response against gluten epitopes dominated by DQ2.5-glia-α1a and DQ2.5-glia-α2. The DQ2.5-glia-α2 response recruits a highly biased TCR repertoire composed of TRAV26-1 paired with TRBV7-2 harboring a semipublic CDR3β loop. We aimed to unravel the molecular basis for this signature. By variable gene segment exchange, directed mutagenesis, and cellular T cell activation studies, we found that TRBV7-3 can substitute for TRBV7-2, as both can contain the canonical CDR3β loop. Furthermore, we identified a pivotal germline-encoded MHC recognition motif centered on framework residue Y40 in TRAV26-1 engaging both DQB1*02 and the canonical CDR3β. This allowed prediction of expanded DQ2.5-glia-α2–reactive TCR repertoires, which were confirmed by single-cell sorting and TCR sequencing from CD patient samples. Our data refine our understanding of how HLA-dependent biased TCR repertoires are selected in the periphery due to germline-encoded residues.
Kristin Støen Gunnarsen, Lene Støkken Høydahl, Louise Fremgaard Risnes, Shiva Dahal-Koirala, Ralf Stefan Neumann, Elin Bergseng, Terje Frigstad, Rahel Frick, M. Fleur du Pré, Bjørn Dalhus, Knut E.A. Lundin, Shuo-Wang Qiao, Ludvig M. Sollid, Inger Sandlie, Geir Åge Løset