To characterize T cells surviving elimination following strong in vivo responses, bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) was used to mark the V beta 6+ CD4+ T cells proliferating after exposure to MLsa superantigens. Though a portion of the surviving V beta 6+ cells failed to label with BrdU, many were BrdU+, indicating that some proliferating cells escape elimination. Both the portion of V beta 6+ cells responding to MLs Ag in vivo and the number of responding cells that escaped elimination were influenced by the MHC haplotype; weaker responses correlated with enhanced survival of BrdU+ V beta 6+ cells. As expected, some of these cells expressed cell surface markers generally associated with an activated/memory phenotype. Significantly, however, a large proportion of BrdU+ V beta 6+ cells were phenotypically indistinguishable from naive cells.

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