Immune-mediated bone marrow failure syndromes of progenitor and stem cells: Molecular analysis of cytotoxic T cell clones

Jaroslaw P. Maciejewski, Christine O'Keefe, Lukasz Gondek, Ramon Tiu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The unique structure of the T cell receptor (TCR) enables molecular identification of individual T cell clones and provides an unique opportunity for the design of molecular diagnostic tests based on the structure of the rearranged TCR chain e.g., using the TCR CDR3 region. Initially, clonal T cell malignancies, including T cell large granular lymphocyte leukemia (T-LGL), mucosis fungoides and peripheral T cell lymphoma were targets for the TCR-based analytic assays such as detection of clonality by T-γ rearrangement using γ-chain-specific PCR or Southern Blotting. Study of these disorders facilitated further analytic concepts and application of rational methods of TCR analysis to investigations of polyclonal T cell-mediated diseases. In hematology, such conditions include graft versus host disease (GvHD) and immune-mediated bone marrow failure syndromes. In aplastic anemia (AA), myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) or paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), cytotoxic T cell responses may be directed against certain antigens located on stem or more line-age-restricted progenitor cells in single lineage cytopenias. The nature of the antigenic targets driving polyclonal CTL responses remains unclear. Novel methods of TCR repertoire analysis, include VB flow cytometry, peptide-specific tetramer staining, in vitro stimulation assays and TCR CDR3-specific PCR. Such PCR assay can be either VB family-specific or multiplexed for all VB families. Amplified products can be characterized and quantitated to facilitate detection of the most immunodominant clonotypes. Such clonotypes may serve as markers for the global polyclonal T cell response. Identification of these clonotypes can be performed in blood and tissue biopsy material by various methods. Once immunodominant clonotypes corresponding to pathogenic CTL clones are identified they can serve as surrogate markers for the activity of the pathophysiologic process or even indicate the presence of specific antigens. The relevance of the individual clonotypes can be ascertained from clinical correlations with the activity of the disease. Quantitative clonotypic assays such as sequencing of multiple CDR3 clones or clonotypic Taqman PCR can be applied for the monitoring of the immunosuppressive therapy and prediction of relapse. Future technologies may allow for the design of clonotypic microarrays or other more clinically applicable methods of clonotypic diagnostics. Similarly, identification of immunodominant clonotypes may facilitate targeting of autoimmune or malignant clones with vaccination and induction of anti-idiotypic responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-14
Number of pages10
JournalFolia Histochemica et Cytobiologica
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Marrow failure syndromes
  • Molecular analysis
  • T cell receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology


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