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CD4+ T follicular helper (Tfh) cells in human tonsil and blood are clonally convergent, but divergent from non-Tfh CD4+ cells

By Elena Brenna, Alexey N Davydov, Kristin Ladell, James E McLaren, Paolo Bonaiuti, Maria Metsger, Sarah C. Gilbert, Teresa Lambe, David A. Price, Suzanne L Campion, Dmitriy M. Chudakov, Persephone Borrow, Andrew J. McMichael

Posted 22 Aug 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/743187 (published DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.12.016)

T follicular helper (Tfh) cells are fundamental for B cell selection and antibody maturation in germinal centers. Circulating Tfh (cTfh) cells constitute a minor proportion of the CD4+ T cells in peripheral blood, but their clonotypic relationship to Tfh populations resident in lymph nodes and the extent to which they differ from non-Tfh CD4+ cells has been unclear. Using donor-matched blood and tonsil samples we investigated T cell receptor (TCR) sharing between tonsillar Tfh cells and peripheral Tfh and non-Tfh cell populations. TCR transcript sequencing revealed considerable clonal overlap between peripheral and tonsillar Tfh cell subsets as well as a clear distinction between Tfh and non-Tfh cells. Furthermore, influenza-specific cTfh cell clones derived from blood could be found in the repertoire of tonsillar Tfh cells. Therefore, human blood samples can be used to gain insight into the specificity of Tfh responses occurring in lymphoid tissues, provided cTfh subsets are studied.

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