TCR sequencing of single cells reactive to DQ2.5-glia-a2 and DQ2.5-glia-?2 reveals clonal expansion and epitope-specific V-gene usage.
CD4+ T cells recognizing dietary gluten epitopes in the context of disease-associated human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-DQ2 or HLA-DQ8 molecules are the key players in celiac disease pathogenesis. Here, we conducted a large-scale single-cell paired T-cell receptor (TCR) sequencing study to characterize the TCR repertoire for two homologous immunodominant gluten epitopes, DQ2.5-glia-a2 and DQ2.5-glia-?2, in blood of celiac disease patients after oral gluten challenge. Despite sequence similarity of the epitopes, the TCR repertoires are unique but shared several overall features. We demonstrate that clonally expanded T cells dominate the T-cell responses to both epitopes. Moreover, we find V-gene bias of TRAV26, TRAV4, and TRBV7 in DQ2.5-glia-a2 reactive TCRs, while DQ2.5-glia-?2 TCRs displayed significant bias toward TRAV4 and TRBV4. The knowledge that antigen-specific TCR repertoire in chronic inflammatory diseases tends to be dominated by a few expanded clones that use the same TCR V-gene segments across patients is important information for HLA-associated diseases where the antigen is unknown.