Successful allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT) requires reconstitution of normal T-cell immunity. Chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD) is one of the major complications following allo-HSCT. The poor reconstitution of T-cell immunity (including the reconstitution of recent thymic output function and T-cell receptor (TCR) repertoire) was associated with cGVHD. In the previous study, we found that cGVHD predicted low TCR rearrangement excision circles (TRECs) levels and slow naïve T-cell recovery. Because GVHD displayed as clonal proliferation of special T-cells clones, which was triggered by donor T cells to recognize the host’s allogene antigen, in the present study we analyzed the TCR Vα and Vβ repertoire and cloanlity in patients with cGVHD, in order to find the special T-cell clones associated with cGVHD and evaluate the molecular characteristics of the CDR3 of TCR Vα and Vβ repertoire of GVHD-associated T-cell clones. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMNCs) were obtained from 5 leukemia patients with cGVHD after allo-HSCT. The expression and cloanlity analysis of TCR Vα and Vβ repertoire were detected by RT-PCR and genescan technique. Six donors served as controls. Almost all of TCR Vα and Vβ repertoire with polyclonal pattern were identified in normal controls. However, the skew expression pattern of TCR Vα and Vβ repertoire could be detected in patients with cGVHD even more than 4 year after allo-HSCT. Among 29 Vα and 24 Vβ subfamilies, there were only 4∼12 Vα and 4∼11 Vβ subfamilies expressed in patients with cGVHD. Oligoclonal or monoclonal expanded T cells were identified in TCR Vα 2, 3, 6, 10, 12, 14, 15, 25, 26 and TCR Vβ 1, 3, 7∼9, 13, 17, 19, 20 subfamilies respectively. The CDR3 sequences were further analyzed and all the sequences were blasted by internet (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov) and confirmed that it belonged to specific TCR Vα or Vβ gene rearrangement. The lengths of CDR3 were ranged from 12 to 15 amino acids. The molecular characteristics of the CDR3 of TCR Vα and Vβ genes rearrangement were TCRVα 3 (new name: Vα 17*01)-N-Jα 48*01-Cα (motif: CATEVDFGNEKLIF), TCRVα 2 (new name: Vα 12–2*01)-N-Jα 20*01-Cα (motif: CAVNLNDYKLIF), TCRVβ 1 (new name: Vβ 9*01)-N-Dβ 2*01-N-Jβ 2–1*01-Cβ 2 (motif: CASSDPPETYNEQFF), TCRVβ 7 (new name: Vβ 4–3*01)-N-Dβ 1*01-Jβ 1–1*01-Cβ 1 (motif: CASSHESGNTEAFF). Some TCR subfamily genes shared similarity in CDR3 amino acid motif. The role of specific sequences of CDR3 of TCR Vα and Vβ repertoire and T-cell clones will be confirmed in vivo by animal models.

Author notes

Disclosure: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.