2017 Mar 1;8:14760. doi:10.1038/ncomms14760.
γδ T cells are considered to be innate-like lymphocytes that respond rapidly to stress without clonal selection and differentiation. Here we use next-generation sequencing to probe how this paradigm relates to human Vδ2neg T cells, implicated in responses to viral infection and cancer. The prevalent Vδ1 T cell receptor (TCR) repertoire is private and initially unfocused in cord blood, typically becoming strongly focused on a few high-frequency clonotypes by adulthood. Clonal expansions have differentiated from a naive to effector phenotype associated with CD27 downregulation, retaining proliferative capacity and TCR sensitivity, displaying increased cytotoxic markers and altered homing capabilities, and remaining relatively stable over time. Contrastingly, Vδ2+ T cells express semi-invariant TCRs, which are present at birth and shared between individuals. Human Vδ1+ T cells have therefore evolved a distinct biology from the Vδ2+ subset, involving a central, personalized role for the γδ TCR in directing a highly adaptive yet unconventional form of immune surveillance.
2016 Nov 15;45(5):1122-1134. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2016.10.032.
Regulatory T (Treg) cells reside in lymphoid organs and barrier tissues where they control different types of inflammatory responses. Treg cells are also found in human cancers, and studies in animal models suggest that they contribute to cancer progression. However, properties of human intratumoral Treg cells and those present in corresponding normal tissue remain largely unknown. Here, we analyzed features of Treg cells in untreated human breast carcinomas, normal mammary gland, and peripheral blood. Tumor-resident Treg cells were potently suppressive and their gene-expression pattern resembled that of normal breast tissue, but not of activated peripheral blood Treg cells. Nevertheless, a number of cytokine and chemokine receptor genes, most notably CCR8, were upregulated in tumor-resident Treg cells in comparison to normal tissue-resident ones. Our studies suggest that targeting CCR8 for the depletion of tumor-resident Treg cells might represent a promising immunotherapeutic approach for the treatment of breast cancer.
2016 Dec 9. doi:10.1038/leu.2016.321.
αβT-cell-depleted allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation holds promise for the safe and accessible therapy of both malignant and non-malignant blood disorders. Here we employed molecular barcoding normalized T-cell receptor (TCR) profiling to quantitatively track T-cell immune reconstitution after TCRαβ-/CD19-depleted transplantation in children. We demonstrate that seemingly early reconstitution of αβT-cell counts 2 months after transplantation is based on only several hundred rapidly expanded clones originating from non-depleted graft cells. In further months, frequency of these hyperexpanded clones declines, and after 1 year the observed T-cell counts and TCRβ diversity are mostly provided by the newly produced T cells. We also demonstrate that high TCRβ diversity at day 60 observed for some of the patients is determined by recipient T cells and intrathymic progenitors that survived conditioning regimen. Our results indicate that further efforts on optimization of TCRαβ-/CD19-depleted transplantation protocols should be directed toward providing more efficient T-cell defense in the first months after transplantation.
2016 Sep;11(9):1599-616. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2016.093.
High-throughput sequencing analysis of hypermutating immunoglobulin (IG) repertoires remains a challenging task. Here we present a robust protocol for the full-length profiling of human and mouse IG repertoires. This protocol uses unique molecular identifiers (UMIs) introduced in the course of cDNA synthesis to control bottlenecks and to eliminate PCR and sequencing errors. Using asymmetric 400+100-nt paired-end Illumina sequencing and UMI-based assembly with the new version of the MIGEC software, the protocol allows up to 750-nt lengths to be sequenced in an almost error-free manner. This sequencing approach should also be applicable to various tasks beyond immune repertoire studies. In IG profiling, the achieved length of high-quality sequence covers the variable region of even the longest chains, along with the fragment of a constant region carrying information on the antibody isotype. The whole protocol, including preparation of cells and libraries, sequencing and data analysis, takes 5 to 6 d.
2016 Jun 2;1(8). pii: e85609. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.85609.
CD4+ T cells predominate in salivary gland (SG) inflammatory lesions in Sjögren’s syndrome (SS). However, their antigen specificity, degree of clonal expansion, and relationship to clinical disease features remain unknown. We used multiplex reverse-transcriptase PCR to amplify paired T cell receptor α (TCRα) and β transcripts of single CD4+CD45RA– T cells from SG and peripheral blood (PB) of 10 individuals with primary SS, 9 of whom shared the HLA DR3/DQ2 risk haplotype. TCRα and β sequences were obtained from a median of 91 SG and 107 PB cells per subject. The degree of clonal expansion and frequency of cells expressing two productively rearranged α genes were increased in SG versus PB. Expanded clones from SG exhibited complementary-determining region 3 (CDR3) sequence similarity both within and among subjects, suggesting antigenic selection and shared antigen recognition. CDR3 similarities were shared among expanded clones from individuals discordant for canonical Ro and La autoantibodies, suggesting recognition of alternative SG antigen(s). The extent of SG clonal expansion correlated with reduced saliva production and increased SG fibrosis, linking expanded SG T cells with glandular dysfunction. Knowledge of paired TCRα and β sequences enables further work toward identification of target antigens and development of novel therapies.
2016 Jun 13;17(1):453. doi: 10.1186/s12864-016-2799-7.
The repertoire of T- and B-cell receptor sequences encodes the antigen specificity of adaptive immunity system, determines its present state and guides its ability to mount effective response against encountered antigens in future. High throughput sequencing of immune repertoires (Rep-Seq) is a promising technique that allows to profile millions of antigen receptors of an individual in a single experiment. While a substantial number of tools for mapping and assembling Rep-Seq data were published recently, the field still lacks an intuitive and flexible tool that can be used by researchers with little or no computational background for in-depth analysis of immune repertoire profiles.
Here we report VDJviz, a web tool that can be used to browse, analyze and perform quality control of Rep-Seq results generated by various pre-processing software. On a set of real data examples we show that VDJviz can be used to explore key repertoire characteristics such as spectratype, repertoire clonality, V-(D)-J recombination patterns and to identify shared clonotypes. We also demonstrate the utility of VDJviz in detection of critical Rep-Seq biases such as artificial repertoire diversity and cross-sample contamination.
VDJviz is a versatile and lightweight tool that can be easily employed by biologists, immunologists and immunogeneticists for routine analysis and quality control of Rep-Seq data. The software is freely available for non-commercial purposes, and can be downloaded from: https://github.com/antigenomics/vdjviz.
2016 Jun 15;196(12):5005-13. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1600005.
The diversity, architecture, and dynamics of the TCR repertoire largely determine our ability to effectively withstand infections and malignancies with minimal mistargeting of immune responses. In this study, we have employed deep TCRβ repertoire sequencing with normalization based on unique molecular identifiers to explore the long-term dynamics of T cell immunity. We demonstrate remarkable stability of repertoire, where approximately half of all T cells in peripheral blood are represented by clones that persist and generally preserve their frequencies for 3 y. We further characterize the extremes of lifelong TCR repertoire evolution, analyzing samples ranging from umbilical cord blood to centenarian peripheral blood. We show that the fetal TCR repertoire, albeit structurally maintained within regulated borders due to the lower numbers of randomly added nucleotides, is not limited with respect to observed functional diversity. We reveal decreased efficiency of nonsense-mediated mRNA decay in umbilical cord blood, which may reflect specific regulatory mechanisms in development. Furthermore, we demonstrate that human TCR repertoires are functionally more similar at birth but diverge during life, and we track the lifelong behavior of CMV- and EBV-specific T cell clonotypes. Finally, we reveal gender differences in dynamics of TCR diversity constriction, which come to naught in the oldest age. Based on our data, we propose a more general explanation for the previous observations on the relationships between longevity and immunity.
2016 Mar;94(3):293-305. doi: 10.1038/icb.2015.90.
FOXP3+ regulatory T (Treg) cells are indispensable for immune homeostasis, but their study in humans is complicated by heterogeneity within Treg, the difficulty in purifying Tregs using surface marker expression (e.g. CD25) and the transient expression of FOXP3 by activated effector cells. Here, we report that expression of CD39 and CD45RO distinguishes three sub-populations within human CD4+CD25hi T cells. Initial phenotypic and functional analysis demonstrated that CD4+CD25hiCD39+CD45RO+ cells had properties consistent with effector Treg, CD4+CD25hiCD39−CD45RO− cells were naïve Treg and CD4+CD25hiCD39−CD45RO+ cells were predominantly non-Treg with effector T-cell function. Differences in these two newly identified Treg subsets were corroborated by studies of gene expression and TCR analysis. To apply this approach, we studied these two newly identified Treg subsets in ankylosing spondylitis, and showed impairment in both effector and naïve Treg. This work highlights the importance of discriminating Treg subsets to enable proper comparisons of immune regulatory capacity in healthy individuals and those with inflammatory disease.
2015 Nov 24;6(37):39393-4. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.6349.
High-throughput sequencing of T cell (TCR) receptor repertoires is a promising approach that can be used to characterize the state and dynamics of adaptive immunity and, potentially, to deduce the antigen specificityof the immune response.
While the number of applications of TCR profiling is constantly growing, basic protocols have several drawbacks that are making it difficult to utilize them in certain experimental settings. In particular, quantitativedata interpretation is hampered by stochasticity ofsampling of lymphocytes and TCR-encoding RNA/DNA, stochasticity and biases of PCR amplification, andsequencing quality biases.
These problems become more evident when profiling rare T-cell subpopulations, such as tumor- infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) that may contain low lymphocyte counts, populations enriched for tumor antigen-specific cells, or functional T cell subests of interest, the tasks critical for studying the role of adaptive immunity in cancer progression and treatment.
In this brief note we summarize what we suggest to be the most relevant issues of studying tumor-specific TCR repertoire for the minor lymphocyte counts, where derived data is more prone to noise introduced by stochastic sampling, which renders methods that operate with T-cell clonotype frequencies less useful.
2015 Nov 25;11(11). doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004503.
Despite the growing number of immune repertoire sequencing studies, the field still lacks software for analysis and comprehension of this high-dimensional data. Here we report VDJtools, a complementary software suite that solves a wide range of T cell receptor (TCR) repertoires post-analysis tasks, provides a detailed tabular output and publication-ready graphics, and is built on top of a flexible API. Using TCR datasets for a large cohort of unrelated healthy donors, twins, and multiple sclerosis patients we demonstrate that VDJtools greatly facilitates the analysis and leads to sound biological conclusions. VDJtools software and documentation are available at https://github.com/mikessh/vdjtools.
2015 Dec 3;528(7580):132-6. doi: 10.1038/nature16141.
T-cell receptor (TCR) signalling has a key role in determining T-cell fate. Precursor cells expressing TCRs within a certain low-affinity range for complexes of self-peptide and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) undergo positive selection and differentiate into naive T cells expressing a highly diverse self-MHC-restricted TCR repertoire. In contrast, precursors displaying TCRs with a high affinity for ‘self’ are either eliminated through TCR-agonist-induced apoptosis (negative selection) or restrained by regulatory T (Treg) cells, whose differentiation and function are controlled by the X-chromosome-encoded transcription factor Foxp3. Foxp3 is expressed in a fraction of self-reactive T cells that escape negative selection in response to agonist-driven TCR signals combined with interleukin 2 (IL-2) receptor signalling. In addition to Treg cells, TCR-agonist-driven selection results in the generation of several other specialized T-cell lineages such as natural killer T cells and innate mucosal-associated invariant T cells. Although the latter exhibit a restricted TCR repertoire, Treg cells display a highly diverse collection of TCRs. Here we explore in mice whether a specialized mechanism enables agonist-driven selection of Treg cells with a diverse TCR repertoire, and the importance this holds for self-tolerance. We show that the intronic Foxp3 enhancer conserved noncoding sequence 3 (CNS3) acts as an epigenetic switch that confers a poised state to the Foxp3 promoter in precursor cells to make Treg cell lineage commitment responsive to a broad range of TCR stimuli, particularly to suboptimal ones. CNS3-dependent expansion of the TCR repertoire enables Treg cells to control self-reactive T cells effectively, especially when thymic negative selection is genetically impaired. Our findings highlight the complementary roles of these two main mechanisms of self-tolerance.
2015 May 28;16:175. doi: 10.1186/s12859-015-0613-1.
The Immunoglobulins (IG) and the T cell receptors (TR) play the key role in antigen recognition during the adaptive immune response. Recent progress in next-generation sequencing technologies has provided an opportunity for the deep T cell receptor repertoire profiling. However, a specialised software is required for the rational analysis of massive data generated by next-generation sequencing.
Here we introduce tcR, a new R package, representing a platform for the advanced analysis of T cell receptor repertoires, which includes diversity measures, shared T cell receptor sequences identification, gene usage statistics computation and other widely used methods. The tool has proven its utility in recent research studies.
tcR is an R package for the advanced analysis of T cell receptor repertoires after primary TR sequences extraction from raw sequencing reads. The stable version can be directly installed from The Comprehensive R Archive Network (http://cran.r-project.org/mirrors.html). The source code and development version are available at tcR GitHub (http://imminfo.github.io/tcr/) along with the full documentation and typical usage examples.
2015 Jun 15;194(12):6155-63. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1500215.
Emerging high-throughput sequencing methods for the analyses of complex structure of TCR and BCR repertoires give a powerful impulse to adaptive immunity studies. However, there are still essential technical obstacles for performing a truly quantitative analysis. Specifically, it remains challenging to obtain comprehensive information on the clonal composition of small lymphocyte populations, such as Ag-specific, functional, or tissue-resident cell subsets isolated by sorting, microdissection, or fine needle aspirates. In this study, we report a robust approach based on unique molecular identifiers that allows profiling Ag receptors for several hundred to thousand lymphocytes while preserving qualitative and quantitative information on clonal composition of the sample. We also describe several general features regarding the data analysis with unique molecular identifiers that are critical for accurate counting of starting molecules in high-throughput sequencing applications.
2015 May;12(5):380-1. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.3364.
High-throughput sequencing is gaining importance in adaptive immunity studies, demanding efficient software solutions for immunoglobulin (IG) and T-cell receptor profiling. Here we report MiXCR (available at http://mixcr.milaboratory.com/ and https://github.com/milaboratory/mixcr/), a universal framework that processes big immunome data from raw sequences to quantitated clonotypes. MiXCR efficiently handles paired- and single-end reads, considers sequence quality, corrects PCR errors and identifies germline hypermutations. The software supports both partial- and full-length profiling and employs all available RNA or DNA information, including sequences upstream of V and downstream of J gene segments.
2014 May 4;Epub ahead of print. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.2960.
Deep profiling of antibody and T cell–receptor repertoires by means of high-throughput sequencing has become an attractive approach for adaptive immunity studies, but its power is substantially compromised by the accumulation of PCR and sequencing errors. Here we report MIGEC (molecular identifier groups–based error correction), a strategy for high-throughput sequencing data analysis. MIGEC allows for nearly absolute error correction while fully preserving the natural diversity of complex immune repertoires.
2014 Apr 7;Epub ahead of print. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1319389111.
Adaptive immunity in humans is provided by hypervariable Ig-like molecules on the surface of B and T cells. The final set of these molecules in each organism is formed under the influence of two forces: individual genetic traits and the environment, which includes the diverse spectra of alien and self-antigens. Here we assess the impact of individual genetic factors on the formation of the adaptive immunity by analyzing the T-cell receptor (TCR) repertoires of three pairs of monozygous twins by next-generation sequencing. Surprisingly, we found that an overlap between the TCR repertoires of monozygous twins is similar to an overlap between the TCR repertoires of nonrelated individuals. However, the number of identical complementary determining region 3 sequences in two individuals is significantly increased for twin pairs in the fraction of highly abundant TCR molecules, which is enriched by the antigen-experienced T cells. We found that the initial recruitment of particular TCR V genes for recombination and subsequent selection in the thymus is strictly determined by individual genetic factors. J genes of TCRs are selected randomly for recombination; however, the subsequent selection in the thymus gives preference to some α but not β J segments. These findings provide a deeper insight into the mechanism of TCR repertoire generation.
2014 Dec 7;Epub ahead of print. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1302064.
The decrease of TCR diversity with aging has never been studied by direct methods. In this study, we combined high-throughput Illumina sequencing with unique cDNA molecular identifier technology to achieve deep and precisely normalized profiling of TCR β repertoires in 39 healthy donors aged 6–90 y. We demonstrate that TCR β diversity per 106 T cells decreases roughly linearly with age, with significant reduction already apparent by age 40. The percentage of naive T cells showed a strong correlation with measured TCR diversity and decreased linearly up to age 70. Remarkably, the oldest group (average age 82 y) was characterized by a higher percentage of naive CD4+ T cells, lower abundance of expanded clones, and increased TCR diversity compared with the previous age group (average age 62 y), suggesting the influence of age selection and association of these three related parameters with longevity. Interestingly, cross-analysis of individual TCR β repertoires revealed a set >10,000 of the most representative public TCR β clonotypes, whose abundance among the top 100,000 clones correlated with TCR diversity and decreased with aging.
It has been reported that human TCR repertoires commonly carry so-called public clonotypes – CDR3 variants that are often shared between individuals. Cross-comparison of individual immune repertoires has previously revealed the existence of a population of TCR beta CDR3 variants that are identical at the amino acid level for any two donors. The lower bound for the total overlap between any two given donors’ TCR beta repertoires within their CD8+ naïve T cell subset has been estimated as ~14,000 identical amino acid CDR3 variants based on comparison of 200,000–600,000 individual TCR beta clonotypes. Here, we have used deep profiling data consisting of 1–2 × 10-6 individual TCR beta clonotypes that we obtained from healthy donors to better estimate the total overlap between TCR beta repertoires for any two individuals.
2013 Dec 25;4:463. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2013.00463.
The relationship between maternal and child immunity has been actively studied in the context of complications during pregnancy, autoimmune diseases, and haploidentical transplantation of hematopoietic stem cells and solid organs. Here, we have for the first time used high-throughput Illumina HiSeq sequencing to perform deep quantitative profiling of T cell receptor (TCR) repertoires for peripheral blood samples of three mothers and their six children. Advanced technology allowed accurate identification of 5 × 105 to 2 × 106 TCR beta clonotypes per individual. We performed comparative analysis of these TCR repertoires with the aim of revealing characteristic features that distinguish related mother-child pairs, such as relative TCR beta variable segment usage frequency and relative overlap of TCR beta complementarity-determining region 3 (CDR3) repertoires. We show that thymic selection essentially and similarly shapes the initial output of the TCR recombination machinery in both related and unrelated pairs, with minor effect from inherited differences. The achieved depth of TCR profiling also allowed us to test the hypothesis that mature T cells transferred across the placenta during pregnancy can expand and persist as functional microchimeric clones in their new host, using characteristic TCR beta CDR3 variants as clonal identifiers.
2013 Dec 23;4:456. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2013.00456.
High-throughput sequencing has the power to reveal the nature of adaptive immunity as represented by the full complexity of T-cell receptor (TCR) and antibody (IG) repertoires, but is at present severely compromised by the quantitative bias, bottlenecks, and accumulated errors that inevitably occur in the course of library preparation and sequencing. Here we report an optimized protocol for the unbiased preparation of TCR and IG cDNA libraries for high-throughput sequencing, starting from thousands or millions of live cells in an investigated sample. Critical points to control are revealed, along with tips that allow researchers to minimize quantitative bias, accumulated errors, and cross-sample contamination at each stage, and to enhance the subsequent bioinformatic analysis. The protocol is simple, reliable, and can be performed in 1–2 days.
2013 Aug;10(9):813-4. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.2555.
High-throughput sequencing technologies have transformed the field of antigen receptor diversity studies, enabling deep and quantitative analysis for deciphering adaptive immunity function in health and disease. As more data are produced each year, there is steadily growing demand for standardized analysis software.
Here we report MiTCR, an open-source software for rapid, robust and comprehensive analysis of hundreds of millions of raw high-throughput sequencing reads containing sequences encoding human or mouse α or β T-cell antigen receptor (TCR) chains (Supplementary Software). Raw data in FASTQ format generated via Illumina, 454 or Ion Torrent sequencing can be used as input for analysis. The only requirement is that sequence encoding conserved positions flanking the complementarity-determining region 3 (CDR3), Cys104 and Phe118 or Trp118, is covered by a sequencing read.
2013 Sep;43(9):2507-15. doi: 10.1002/eji.201343453.
Our ability to analyze adaptive immunity and engineer its activity has long been constrained by our limited ability to identify native pairs of heavy–light antibody chains and alpha–beta T-cell receptor (TCR) chains — both of which comprise coupled “halves of a key”, collectively capable of recognizing specific antigens. Here, we report a cell-based emulsion RT-PCR approach that allows the selective fusion of the native pairs of amplified TCR alpha and beta chain genes for complex samples. A new type of PCR suppression technique was developed that makes it possible to amplify the fused library with minimal noise for subsequent analysis by high-throughput paired-end Illumina sequencing. With this technique, single analysis of a complex blood sample allows identification of multiple native TCR chain pairs. This approach may be extended to identify native antibody chain pairs and, more generally, pairs of mRNA molecules that are coexpressed in the same living cells.
2013 Nov;19(11):1534-41. doi: 10.1038/nm.3359.
The transfer of T cell receptor (TCR) genes into patient T cells is a promising approach for the treatment of both viral infections and cancer. Although efficient methods exist to identify antibodies for the treatment of these diseases, comparable strategies to identify TCRs have been lacking. We have developed a high-throughput DNA-based strategy to identify TCR sequences by the capture and sequencing of genomic DNA fragments encoding the TCR genes. We establish the value of this approach by assembling a large library of cancer germline tumor antigen–reactive TCRs. Furthermore, by exploiting the quantitative nature of TCR gene capture, we show the feasibility of identifying antigen-specific TCRs in oligoclonal T cell populations from either human material or TCR-humanized mice. Finally, we demonstrate the ability to identify tumor-reactive TCRs within intratumoral T cell subsets without knowledge of antigen specificities, which may be the first step toward the development of autologous TCR gene therapy to target patient-specific neoantigens in human cancer.