Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
Developmental Immunology
Volume 7, Issue 1, Pages 9-15

A Developmental Bias in Reading Frame Usage by Human Fetal Thymic TCRBDJ Transcripts is not Present in Genomic TCRBDJ Rearrangements

1Department of Surgery, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Department of Medicine, University of Alabama, Birmingham, United Kingdom
2Division of Developmental and Clinical Immunology, University of Alabama, Birmingham, United Kingdom
3Division of Hematology and Oncology, University of Alabama, Birmingham, United Kingdom
4Department of Surgery, Rm. 739 ZRB, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham 35294-0007, Alabama, United Kingdom

Received 24 March 1998

Copyright © 1999 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We have previously reported that reading-frame usage and functional diversification is developmentally regulated, with virtually all TCRB DJ mRNA transcripts using a single reading frame at 8 weeks of gestational age, tapering to 50% by adult life. We used the polymerase chain reaction to create genomic libraries of DJ rearrangements in the TCRB locus from thymuses at 7.7, 10, and 16 weeks of gestational age, and from adult thymuses. Clones were randomly picked and sequenced to determine junctional sequences and reading-frame utilization. The resulting data address the hypothesis that cells bearing genomic joints in reading frame one are preferentially selected during fetal life. This hypothesis predicts that reading- frame bias would also be observed among genomic DJ joints. Instead, we observed random utilization of the three possible D-region reading frames among genomic D1s1 => J1s1 joints during fetal life. Similar results were obtained at 7.7 weeks of gestational age in a second thymus in which both RNA and DNA were simultaneously isolated and used to create libraries of TCRBDJ transcripts or rearrangements. We conclude that reading-frame utilization is random among genomic D1s1-JB1s1 rearrangements and that the preferential usage of a single reading frame among mRNA transcripts of TCRB DJ transcripts is the result of preferential transcription of genomic TCRB DJ joints in a single reading frame, or that TCRB DJ transcripts have a longer half-life than transcripts in reading frames two or three.