Idiotypes of TCR

TCR, like Ig of B cells, bears idiotypic antigenic determinants that can be located on a or j8 chain or both. These determinants should be distinguished from antigenic determinants borne by Va or V/3 chains encoded solely by Va or V/3 gene segments. These latter can be considered as the equivalent of VH or VK subgroup or allotypic determinants.

Idiotypic determinants of TCR were defined by anti-idiotype antibodies or T cells. In early studies, Eichmann and Rajewsky showed that the T cells and B cells exhibiting the same antigen specificity, i.e. ACHO carbohydrate of streptococcus A, share the same idiotype. These studies were not confirmed later. Actually, idiotypic determinants of TCR are generally different from those of Ig because of the low degree of homology between CDRs of V genes of immunoglobulins and of TCR. Idiotypic determinants defined by antibodies or by T cells were identified on various subsets of T cells such as suppressor and helper T cells, and T cells mediating delayed-type sensitivity, contact sensitivity, or resistance against graft-verus-host reaction. It is important to mention that antibodies specific for idiotypes of TCR can function as antigen surrogates; namely, to activate or suppress T cell function.

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