T cell clonality assessment: past, present and future.

T cell clonality testing has important clinical and research value, providing a specific and reproducible assessment of clonal diversity in T cell proliferations. Here we review the conceptual foundations of T cell clonality assays, including T cell ontogeny and T cell receptor structure and function; we also provide an introduction to T cell receptor genomics and the concept of the T cell clonotype. This is followed by a review of historical and current methods by which T cell clonality may be assayed, including current assay limitations. Some of these assay limitations have been overcome by employing next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based technologies that are becoming a mainstay of modern molecular pathology. In this vein, we provide an introduction to NGS technologies, including a review of the preanalytical, analytical and postanalytical technologies relevant to T cell clonality NGS assays.

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