Stochastic modelling of the naive T cell repertoire: size and diversity

Prof Carmen Molina-Paris (University of Leeds)

Thursday 17th November, 2016 14:00-15:00 Maths 522


The reliability of the immune response to pathogenic challenge depends critically on the size and diversity of the T cell repertoire. In this talk I will present our study of naive T cell repertoire diversity maintenance by a stochastic model that incorporates the concept of competition between T cells for survival stimuli from self-peptides (or self-antigens). In the mean field approximation we show that clonotype extinction is certain and compute mean extinction times. We introduce the concept of mean niche overlap and show that clones with a mean niche overlap greater than one have a short repertoire lifespan. This selection differential induces minimal recognition commonality between T cell receptors (TCRs) resulting in a diverse T cell repertoire. In this talk, I will also make use of this model to study the fate and potential of naive T cell clonotypes in the periphery. This is achieved by the introduction of several new stochastic descriptors for a given naive T cell clonotype, such as its maximum clonal size, the time to reach this maximum, the number of proliferation events required to reach this maximum, the rate of contraction of the clonotype during its way to extinction, as well as the time to a given number of proliferation events. Our results show that two fates can be identified for the dynamics of the clonotype: extinction in the short-term if the clonotype experiences too hostile a peripheral environment, or establishment in the periphery in the long-term. In this second case the probability mass function for the maximum clonal size is bimodal, with one mode near one and the other mode far away from it. Our model also indicates that the fate of a recent thymic emigrant (RTE) during its journey in the periphery has a clear stochastic component, where the probability of extinction cannot be neglected, even in a friendly but competitive environment. On the other hand, a greater deterministic behaviour can be expected in the potential size of the clonotype seeded by the RTE in the long-term, once it escapes extinction.

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