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Open Access Research article

Annotation and classification of the bovine T cell receptor delta genes

Carolyn TA Herzig14*, Marie-Paule Lefranc2 and Cynthia L Baldwin13

Author affiliations

1 Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003, USA

2 IMGT, Institut Universitaire de France, Laboratoire d'Immuno Génétique Moléculaire, Université Montpellier 2, UPR CNRS 1142, Montpellier, France

3 Program in Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003, USA

4 Current address: Department of Epidemiology, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA

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Citation and License

BMC Genomics 2010, 11:100  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-100

Published: 9 February 2010



γδ T cells differ from αβ T cells with regard to the types of antigen with which their T cell receptors interact; γδ T cell antigens are not necessarily peptides nor are they presented on MHC. Cattle are considered a "γδ T cell high" species indicating they have an increased proportion of γδ T cells in circulation relative to that in "γδ T cell low" species such as humans and mice. Prior to the onset of the studies described here, there was limited information regarding the genes that code for the T cell receptor delta chains of this γδ T cell high species.


By annotating the bovine (Bos taurus) genome Btau_3.1 assembly the presence of 56 distinct T cell receptor delta (TRD) variable (V) genes were found, 52 of which belong to the TRDV1 subgroup and were co-mingled with the T cell receptor alpha variable (TRAV) genes. In addition, two genes belonging to the TRDV2 subgroup and single TRDV3 and TRDV4 genes were found. We confirmed the presence of five diversity (D) genes, three junctional (J) genes and a single constant (C) gene and describe the organization of the TRD locus. The TRDV4 gene is found downstream of the C gene and in an inverted orientation of transcription, consistent with its orthologs in humans and mice. cDNA evidence was assessed to validate expression of the variable genes and showed that one to five D genes could be incorporated into a single transcript. Finally, we grouped the bovine and ovine TRDV1 genes into sets based on their relatedness.


The bovine genome contains a large and diverse repertoire of TRD genes when compared to the genomes of "γδ T cell low" species. This suggests that in cattle γδ T cells play a more important role in immune function since they would be predicted to bind a greater variety of antigens.