Human T-cell responses to Mycoplasma arthritidis-derived superantigen

N. Bhardwaj, A. S. Hodtsev, A. Nisanian, S. Kabak, S. M. Friedman, B. C. Cole, D. N. Posnett

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17 Scopus citations


When injected into mice, Mycoplasma arthritidis causes a chronic arthritis that resembles rheumatoid arthritis, histologically. The organism produces a superantigen termed Mycoplasma arthritidis mitogen or MAM, that in humans preferentially expands T cells whose antigen receptors express Vβ 17. T cells with this phenotype appear to be increased in rheumatoid synovial effusions. We describe a novel approach to isolating and characterizing human MAM-reactive T-cell lines and determining their T-cell receptor (TCR) Vβ usage. Lines were prepared from T cells that clustered with dendritic cells during a 2-day exposure to MAM. Cluster and noncluster fractions of T cells were then expanded by using feeder cells and a polyclonal mitogen. Most of the MAM reactivity was found in dendritic T-cell clusters, as were most of the T cells expressing TCR Vβ 17. After expansion, 76% of the cluster- derived T-cell lines were MAM reactive, while no reactivity was seen in cell lines derived from the noncluster fraction. Of the MAM-reactive lines, 49% expressed Vβ 17 on some or all of the cells. Cell lines from both cluster and noncluster fractions were analyzed for TCR Vβ mRNA expression by PCR amplification. Other Vβ genes (5.1, 7, 8, 12, and 20) were found to be expressed by lines that were MAM reactive, although these were not a major component of the cluster-derived T cells. Some non-cluster-derived lines expressed Vβs 17, 12, and 7, but these proved to be nonreactive to MAM. Therefore, dendritic cells can be used to immunoselect and characterize T cells that express superantigen-reactive TCRs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-144
Number of pages10
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes


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