The choice of class II MHC determinants that serve as self-recognition elements for murine CD4+ T cells is thought to be determined by the environment in which T cells mature rather than their genotype. Patients with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) reconstituted with T cell depleted haploidentical parental stem cells provide an excellent model for studying this phenomenon in humans. After engraftment, the T cells that develop in these infants are all of donor origin. We sought to determine whether the successful immune reconstitution observed in two such SCID chimeras involved modification of the MHC restriction of Ag recognition by the genetically donor T cells as they matured to become competent T cells in the infants' microenvironment. A tetanus toxoid (TT)-specific T cell line and TT-specific T cell clones were established from the blood of two reconstituted SCID patients and from their maternal donors. T cell responsiveness was determined by [3H]thymidine incorporation after TT presentation by EBV-transformed B cell lines (EBV-B) from various donors. The TT-specific T cell line from patient 1 proliferated when presented Ag by patient, maternal donor, and paternal APC. A CD4+ donor origin clone that proliferated when presented TT by patient and paternal EBV-B, but not by maternal donor EBV-B, was isolated from each patient. TT recognition by these clones was shown to be restricted by the HLA DR determinant shared by patient and father, but not present in the donor. Four TT-specific clones isolated from maternal donors failed to proliferate when presented TT by the appropriate paternal EBV-B. These studies demonstrate that, in these human SCID bone marrow chimeras, engrafted donor-origin stem cells maturing to competent T cells in the recipient microenvironment are capable of utilizing recipient HLA determinants as restriction elements for Ag recognition. This suggests that human, as well as murine, MHC restriction patterns for Ag recognition by CD4+ T cells are environmentally determined.

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