Mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells express an invariant T cell receptor (TCR) ?-chain (TRAV1-2 joined to TRAJ33, TRAJ20, or TRAJ12 in humans), which pairs with an array of TCR ?-chains. MAIT TCRs can bind folate- and riboflavin-based metabolites restricted by the major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-related class I-like molecule, MR1. However, the impact of MAIT TCR and MR1-ligand heterogeneity on MAIT cell biology is unclear. We show how a previously uncharacterized MR1 ligand, acetyl-6-formylpterin (Ac-6-FP), markedly stabilized MR1, potently up-regulated MR1 cell surface expression, and inhibited MAIT cell activation. These enhanced properties of Ac-6-FP were attributable to structural alterations in MR1 that subsequently affected MAIT TCR recognition via conformational changes within the complementarity-determining region (CDR) 3? loop. Analysis of seven TRBV6-1(+) MAIT TCRs demonstrated how CDR3? hypervariability impacted on MAIT TCR recognition by altering TCR flexibility and contacts with MR1 and the Ag itself. Ternary structures of TRBV6-1, TRBV6-4, and TRBV20(+) MAIT TCRs in complex with MR1 bound to a potent riboflavin-based antigen (Ag) showed how variations in TRBV gene usage exclusively impacted on MR1 contacts within a consensus MAIT TCR-MR1 footprint. Moreover, differential TRAJ gene usage was readily accommodated within a conserved MAIT TCR-MR1-Ag docking mode. Collectively, MAIT TCR heterogeneity can fine-tune MR1 recognition in an Ag-dependent manner, thereby modulating MAIT cell recognition.
Mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells home to mucosal sites and exert antimicrobial activity against bacteria and other microorganisms. HIV infection leads to early depletion of gut T cells and translocation of bacterial products. There are reports that MAIT cells, defined by coexpression of V?7.2 and CD161, are depleted during HIV infection and residual MAIT cells are functionally impaired. However, one study suggested that MAIT cells might remain after HIV infection but evade detection through CD161 downregulation. Thus, the impact of HIV infection on MAIT cells is unclear. We studied longitudinal blood samples from 31 HIV-infected subjects for MAIT cell numbers, phenotype and function using both standard V?7.2/CD161 surface markers and an MR1 tetramer. We found that MAIT cells were depleted early during HIV infection, and although there was a concomitant rise in V?7.2(+)CD161(-) cells, these were MR1 tetramer negative, indicating that these are unlikely to be altered MAIT cells. Antigen-mediated activation of residual MAIT cells showed that they remained functional out to 2 years following HIV infection. Although MAIT cells are depleted in HIV infection, residual and functionally active MAIT cells persist and may still be able to assist in controlling bacterial translocation during HIV infection.Immunology and Cell Biology advance online publication, 28 October 2014; doi:10.1038/icb.2014.91.
Glucocorticoids (GCs) are powerful inhibitors of inflammation and immunity. Although glucocorticoid-induced cell death (GICD) is an important part of GCs actions, the cell types and molecular mechanisms involved are not well understood. Untranslated exon 1A3 of the human glucocorticoid receptor (GR) gene is a major determinant of GICD in GICD-sensitive human cancer cell lines, operating to dynamically upregulate GR levels in response to GCs. We measured the GICD sensitivity of freshly isolated peripheral blood mononuclear cells and thymocytes to dexamethasone in vitro, relating this to GR exon 1A3 expression. A clear GICD sensitivity hierarchy was detected: B cells>thymocytes/natural killer (NK) cells>peripheral T cells. Within thymocyte populations, GICD sensitivity decreased with maturation. Interestingly, NK cell subsets were differentially sensitive to GICD, with CD16(+)CD56(int) (cytotoxic) NK cells being highly resistant to GICD, whereas CD16(-)CD56(hi) (cytokine producing) NK cells were highly sensitive (similar to B cells). B-cell GICD was rescued by co-culture with interleukin-4. Strikingly, although no significant increases in GR protein were observed during 48?h of culture of GICD-sensitive and -resistant cells alike, GR 1A3 expression was increased over pre-culture levels in a manner directly proportional to the GICD sensitivity of each cell type. Accordingly, this is the first evidence that the GR exon 1A3 promoter is differentially regulated during thymic development and maturation of human T cells. Furthermore, human peripheral blood B cells are exquisitely GICD-sensitive in vitro, giving new insight into how GCs may downregulate immunity. Collectively, these data show that GR 1A3 expression is tied with GICD sensitivity in human lymphocytes, underscoring the potential for GR 1A3 expression to be used as a biomarker for sensitivity to GICD.Immunology and Cell Biology advance online publication, 22 July 2014; doi:10.1038/icb.2014.57.
Current views emphasize TCR diversity as a key feature that differentiates the group 1 (CD1a, CD1b, CD1c) and group 2 (CD1d) CD1 systems. Whereas TCR sequence motifs define CD1d-reactive NKT cells, the available data do not allow a TCR-based organization of the group 1 CD1 repertoire. The observed TCR diversity might result from donor-to-donor differences in TCR repertoire, as seen for MHC-restricted T cells. Alternatively, diversity might result from differing CD1 isoforms, Ags, and methods used to identify TCRs. Using CD1b tetramers to isolate clones recognizing the same glycolipid, we identified a previously unknown pattern of V gene usage (TRAV17, TRBV4-1) among unrelated human subjects. These TCRs are distinct from those present on NKT cells and germline-encoded mycolyl lipid-reactive T cells. Instead, they resemble the TCR of LDN5, one of the first known CD1b-reactive clones that was previously thought to illustrate the diversity of the TCR repertoire. Interdonor TCR conservation was observed in vitro and ex vivo, identifying LDN5-like T cells as a distinct T cell type. These data support TCR-based organization of the CD1b repertoire, which consists of at least two compartments that differ in TCR sequence motifs, affinity, and coreceptor expression.
Natural killer T (NKT) cells bridge across innate and adaptive immune responses and have an important role in chronic viral infections such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). NKT cells are depleted during chronic HIV infection, but the timing, drivers and implications of this NKT cell depletion are poorly understood. We studied human peripheral blood NKT cell levels, phenotype and function in 31 HIV-infected subjects not on antiretroviral treatment from a mean of 4 months to 2 years after HIV infection. We found that peripheral CD4(+) NKT cells were substantially depleted and dysfunctional by 4 months after HIV infection. The depletion of CD4(+) NKT cells was more marked than the depletion of total CD4(+) T cells. Further, the early depletion of NKT cells correlated with CD4(+) T-cell decline, but not HIV viral levels. Levels of activated CD4(+) T cells correlated with the loss of NKT cells. Our studies suggest that the early loss of NKT cells is associated with subsequent immune destruction during HIV infection.
The self-reactivity of their T-cell antigen receptor (TCR) is thought to contribute to the development of immune regulatory cells, such as invariant NK T cells (iNKT). In the mouse, iNKT cells express TCRs composed of a unique V?14-J?18 rearrangement and recognize lipid antigens presented by CD1d molecules. We created mice expressing a transgenic TCR-? chain that confers high affinity for self-lipid/CD1d complexes when randomly paired with the mouse iNKT V?14-J?18 rearrangement to study their development. We show that although iNKT cells undergo agonist selection, their development is also shaped by negative selection in vivo. In addition, iNKT cells that avoid negative selection in these mice express natural sequence variants of the canonical TCR-? and decreased affinity for self/CD1d. However, limiting the affinity of the iNKT TCRs for "self" leads to inefficient Egr2 induction, poor expression of the iNKT lineage-specific zinc-finger transcription factor PLZF, inadequate proliferation of iNKT cell precursors, defects in trafficking, and impaired effector functions. Thus, proper development of fully functional iNKT cells is constrained by a limited range of TCR affinity that plays a key role in triggering the iNKT cell-differentiation pathway. These results provide a direct link between the affinity of the TCR expressed by T-cell precursors for self-antigens and the proper development of a unique population of lymphocytes essential to immune responses.
Aspergillus fumigatus is a fungus that is associated with a severe form of asthma, although the precise immunological basis for this disease is unclear. A new study in mice shows that natural killer T (NKT) cells are crucial for progression of A. fumigatus–induced asthma and also identifies a glycolipid antigen from this fungus that seems to drive this NKT cell–mediated inflammatory response (pages 1297–1304).
Mucosal-associated invariant T cells (MAIT cells) express a semi-invariant T cell receptor (TCR) ?-chain, TRAV1-2-TRAJ33, and are activated by vitamin B metabolites bound by the major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-related class I-like molecule, MR1. Understanding MAIT cell biology has been restrained by the lack of reagents to specifically identify and characterize these cells. Furthermore, the use of surrogate markers may misrepresent the MAIT cell population. We show that modified human MR1 tetramers loaded with the potent MAIT cell ligand, reduced 6-hydroxymethyl-8-D-ribityllumazine (rRL-6-CH?OH), specifically detect all human MAIT cells. Tetramer(+) MAIT subsets were predominantly CD8(+) or CD4(-)CD8(-), although a small subset of CD4(+) MAIT cells was also detected. Notably, most human CD8(+) MAIT cells were CD8?(+)CD8?(-/lo), implying predominant expression of CD8?? homodimers. Tetramer-sorted MAIT cells displayed a T(H)1 cytokine phenotype upon antigen-specific activation. Similarly, mouse MR1-rRL-6-CH?OH tetramers detected CD4(+), CD4(-)CD8(-) and CD8(+) MAIT cells in V?19 transgenic mice. Both human and mouse MAIT cells expressed a broad TCR-? repertoire, and although the majority of human MAIT cells expressed TRAV1-2-TRAJ33, some expressed TRAJ12 or TRAJ20 genes in conjunction with TRAV1-2. Accordingly, MR1 tetramers allow precise phenotypic characterization of human and mouse MAIT cells and revealed unanticipated TCR heterogeneity in this population.
Studies using glucocorticoid receptor exon 2-disrupted knockout (GR2KO) mice provided strong evidence against an obligatory role for glucocorticoid receptor (GR) signalling in T-cell selection. These mice express a truncated form of the GR that is incapable of transmitting a range of glucocorticoid (GC)-induced signals, including GC-induced thymocyte death. However, one study that suggested that truncated GR function is preserved in the context of GR-mediated repression of T-cell activation-induced genes, challenged earlier conclusions derived from the use of these mice. Because GR versus T-cell receptor (TCR) signalling cross-talk is the means by which GCs are hypothesized to have a role in T-cell selection, we reassessed the utility of GR2KO mice to study the role of the GR in this process. Here, we show that GR-mediated repression of TCR signalling is impaired in GR2KO T cells in terms of TCR-induced activation, proliferation and cytokine production. GC-induced apoptosis was largely abolished in peripheral T cells, and induction of the GC-responsive molecule, interleukin-7 receptor, was also severely reduced in GR2KO thymocytes. Together, these data strongly re-affirm conclusions derived from earlier studies of these mice that the GR is not obligatory for normal T-cell selection.Immunology and Cell Biology advance online publication, 12 November 2013; doi:10.1038/icb.2013.76.
Patients with the dedicator of cytokinesis 8 (DOCK8) immunodeficiency syndrome suffer from recurrent viral and bacterial infections, hyper-immunoglobulin E levels, eczema, and greater susceptibility to cancer. Because natural killer T (NKT) cells have been implicated in these diseases, we asked if these cells were affected by DOCK8 deficiency. Using a mouse model, we found that DOCK8 deficiency resulted in impaired NKT cell development, principally affecting the formation and survival of long-lived, differentiated NKT cells. In the thymus, DOCK8-deficient mice lack a terminally differentiated subset of NK1.1(+) NKT cells expressing the integrin CD103, whereas in the liver, DOCK8-deficient NKT cells express reduced levels of the prosurvival factor B-cell lymphoma 2 and the integrin lymphocyte function-associated antigen 1. Although the initial NKT cell response to antigen is intact in the absence of DOCK8, their ongoing proliferative and cytokine responses are impaired. Importantly, a similar defect in NKT cell numbers was detected in DOCK8-deficient humans, highlighting the relevance of the mouse model. In conclusion, our data demonstrate that DOCK8 is required for the development and survival of mature NKT cells, consistent with the idea that DOCK8 mediates survival signals within a specialized niche. Accordingly, impaired NKT cell numbers and function are likely to contribute to the susceptibility of DOCK8-deficient patients to recurrent infections and malignant disease.
The T cell repertoire comprises ?? and ?? T cell lineages. Although it is established how ?? T cell antigen receptors (TCRs) interact with antigen presented by antigen-presenting molecules, this is unknown for ?? TCRs. We describe a population of human V?1(+) ?? T cells that exhibit autoreactivity to CD1d and provide a molecular basis for how a ?? TCR binds CD1d-?-galactosylceramide (?-GalCer). The ?? TCR docked orthogonally, over the A pocket of CD1d, in which the V?1-chain, and in particular the germ line-encoded CDR1? loop, dominated interactions with CD1d. The TCR ?-chain sat peripherally to the interface, with the CDR3? loop representing the principal determinant for ?-GalCer specificity. Accordingly, we provide insight into how a ?? TCR binds specifically to a lipid-loaded antigen-presenting molecule.
Glucocorticoids (GCs) have essential roles in the regulation of development, integrated metabolism, and immune and neurological responses, and act primarily via the glucocorticoid receptor (GR). In most cells, GC treatment results in down-regulation of GR mRNA and protein levels via negative feedback mechanisms. However, in GC-treated thymocytes, GR protein levels are maintained at a high level, increasing sensitivity of thymocytes to GCs, resulting in apoptosis termed glucocorticoid-induced cell death (GICD). CD4(+)CD8(+) double-positive thymocytes and thymic natural killer T cells in particular are highly sensitive to GICD. Although GICD is exploited via the use of synthetic GC analogues in the treatment of hematopoietic malignancies, the intracellular molecular pathway of GICD is not well understood. To explore GICD in thymocytes, the authors performed whole genome expression microarray analysis in mouse GR exon 2 null vs wild-type thymus RNA 3 hours after dexamethasone treatment. Identified and validated direct GR targets included P21 and Bim, in addition to an important transcriptional regulator Nfil3, which previously has been associated with GICD and is essential for natural killer cell development in vivo. Immunostaining of NFIL3 in whole thymus localized NFIL3 primarily to the medullary region, and double labeling colocalized NFIL3 to apoptotic cells. In silico analysis revealed a putative GC response element 5 kb upstream of the Nfil3 promoter that is strongly conserved in the rat genome and was confirmed to bind GR by chromatin immunoprecipitation. The knockdown of Nfil3 mRNA levels to 20% of normal using specific small interfering RNAs abrogated GICD, indicating that NFIL3 is required for normal GICD in CTLL-2 T cells.
Human T cell antigen receptors (TCRs) pair in millions of combinations to create complex and unique T cell repertoires for each person. Through the use of tetramers to analyze TCRs reactive to the antigen-presenting molecule CD1b, we detected T cells with highly stereotyped TCR ?-chains present among genetically unrelated patients with tuberculosis. The germline-encoded, mycolyl lipid-reactive (GEM) TCRs had an ?-chain bearing the variable (V) region TRAV1-2 rearranged to the joining (J) region TRAJ9 with few nontemplated (N)-region additions. Analysis of TCRs by high-throughput sequencing, binding and crystallography showed linkage of TCR? sequence motifs to high-affinity recognition of antigen. Thus, the CD1-reactive TCR repertoire is composed of at least two compartments: high-affinity GEM TCRs, and more-diverse TCRs with low affinity for CD1b-lipid complexes. We found high interdonor conservation of TCRs that probably resulted from selection by a nonpolymorphic antigen-presenting molecule and an immunodominant antigen.
Isoglobotrihexosylceramide (iGb3) has been identified as a potent CD1d-presented self-antigen for mouse invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells. The role of iGb3 in humans remains unresolved, however, as there have been conflicting reports about iGb3-dependent human iNKT-cell activation, and humans lack iGb3 synthase, a key enzyme for iGb3 synthesis. Given the importance of human immune responses, we conducted a human-mouse cross-species analysis of iNKT-cell activation by iGb3-CD1d. Here we show that human and mouse iNKT cells were both able to recognise iGb3 presented by mouse CD1d (mCD1d), but not human CD1d (hCD1d), as iGb3-hCD1d was unable to support cognate interactions with the iNKT-cell TCRs tested in this study. The structural basis for this discrepancy was identified as a single amino acid variation between hCD1d and mCD1d, a glycine-to-tryptophan modification within the ?2-helix that prevents flattening of the iGb3 headgroup upon TCR ligation. Mutation of the human residue, Trp153, to the mouse ortholog, Gly155, therefore allowed iGb3-hCD1d to stimulate human iNKT cells. In conclusion, our data indicate that iGb3 is unlikely to be a major antigen in human iNKT-cell biology.
CD1d-restricted natural killer T (NKT) cells include two major subgroups. The most widely studied are V?14J?18(+) invariant NKT (iNKT) cells that recognize the prototypical ?-galactosylceramide antigen, whereas the other major group uses diverse T-cell receptor (TCR) ?-and ?-chains, does not recognize ?-galactosylceramide, and is referred to as diverse NKT (dNKT) cells. dNKT cells play important roles during infection and autoimmunity, but the antigens they recognize remain poorly understood. Here, we identified phosphatidylglycerol (PG), diphosphatidylglycerol (DPG, or cardiolipin), and phosphatidylinositol from Mycobacterium tuberculosis or Corynebacterium glutamicum as microbial antigens that stimulated various dNKT, but not iNKT, hybridomas. dNKT hybridomas showed distinct reactivities for diverse antigens. Stimulation of dNKT hybridomas by microbial PG was independent of Toll-like receptor-mediated signaling by antigen-presenting cells and required lipid uptake and/or processing. Furthermore, microbial PG bound to CD1d molecules and plate-bound PG/CD1d complexes stimulated dNKT hybridomas, indicating direct recognition by the dNKT cell TCR. Interestingly, despite structural differences in acyl chain composition between microbial and mammalian PG and DPG, lipids from both sources stimulated dNKT hybridomas, suggesting that presentation of microbial lipids and enhanced availability of stimulatory self-lipids may both contribute to dNKT cell activation during infection.
Natural Killer T (NKT) cells are distinct lymphocyte lineages that recognize lipid antigens presented by the non-classical Major Histocompatibility Complex molecule CD1d. Two categories of NKT cells, type I and type II, have been described based on T-cell receptor expression and antigenic specificity. In both cases, increasing evidence suggest that recognition of self-antigens by these cells plays an important role not only in their development but also in their regulation of a broad range of immune responses. Here we review recent advances in our understanding of how and when NKT cell autoreactivity manifests itself, how the NKT T cell receptor engages self-antigens and the nature of these self-antigens.
Natural killer T cell antigen receptors (NKT TCRs) recognize lipid-based antigens (Ags) presented by CD1d. Although the TCR ?-chain is invariant, NKT TCR V? exhibits greater diversity, with one (V?11) and three (V?8, V?7, and V?2) V? chains in humans and mice, respectively. With the exception of the V?2 NKT TCR, NKT TCRs possess canonical tyrosine residues within complementarity determining region (CDR) 2? that are critical for CD1d binding. Thus, how V?2 NKT TCR docks with CD1d-Ag was unclear. Despite the absence of the CDR2?-encoded tyrosine residues, we show that the V?2 NKT TCR engaged CD1d-Ag in a similar manner and with a comparable affinity and energetic footprint to the manner observed for the V?8.2 and V?7 NKT TCRs. Accordingly, the germline-encoded regions of the TCR ?-chain do not exclusively dictate the innate NKT TCR-CD1d-Ag docking mode. Nevertheless, clear fine specificity differences for the CD1d-Ag existed between the V?2 NKT TCR and the V?8.2 and V?7 NKT TCRs, with the V?2 NKT TCR exhibiting greater sensitivity to modifications to the glycolipid Ag. Furthermore, within the V?2 NKT TCR-CD1d-?GalCer complex, the CDR2? loop mediated fewer contacts with CD1d, whereas the CDR1? and CDR3? loops contacted CD1d to a much greater extent compared with most V?11, V?8.2, and V?7 NKT TCRs. Accordingly, there is a greater interplay between the germline- and nongermline-encoded loops within the TCR ?-chain of the V?2 NKT TCR that enables CD1d-Ag ligation.
NKT cells respond to a variety of CD1d-restricted glycolipid Ags that are structurally related to the prototypic Ag ?-galactosylceramide (?-GalCer). A modified analog of ?-GalCer with a carbon-based glycosidic linkage (?-C-GalCer) has generated great interest because of its apparent ability to promote prolonged, Th1-biased immune responses. In this study, we report the activation of spleen NKT cells to ?-C-GalCer, and related C-glycoside ligands, is weaker than that of ?-GalCer. Furthermore, the V?8.2 and V?7 NKT TCR affinity for CD1d-?-C-GalCer, and some related analogs, is ?10-fold lower than that for the NKT TCR-CD1d-?-GalCer interaction. Nevertheless, the crystal structure of the V?8.2 NKT TCR-CD1d-?-C-GalCer complex is similar to that of the corresponding NKT TCR-CD1d-?-GalCer complex, although subtle differences at the interface provide a basis for understanding the lower affinity of the NKT TCR-CD1d-?-C-GalCer interaction. Our findings support the concept that for CD1d-restricted NKT cells, altered glycolipid ligands can promote markedly different responses while adopting similar TCR-docking topologies.
Natural killer T (NKT) cells represent an important regulatory T cell subset that develops in the thymus and contains immature (NK1.1(lo)) and mature (NK1.1(hi)) cell subsets. Here we show in mice that an inherited mutation in heterogeneous ribonucleoprotein L-like protein (hnRNPLL(thunder)), that shortens the survival of conventional T cells, has no discernible effect on NKT cell development, homeostasis or effector function. Thus, Hnrpll deficiency effectively increases the NKT?T cell ratio in the periphery. However, Hnrpll mutation disrupts CD45RA, RB and RC exon silencing of the Ptprc mRNA in both NKT and conventional T cells, and leads to a comparably dramatic shift to high molecular weight CD45 isoforms. In addition, Hnrpll mutation has a cell intrinsic effect on the expression of the developmentally regulated cell surface marker NK1.1 on NKT cells in the thymus and periphery but does not affect cell numbers. Therefore our results highlight both overlapping and divergent roles for hnRNPLL between conventional T cells and NKT cells. In both cell subsets it is required as a trans-acting factor to regulate alternative splicing of the Ptprc mRNA, but it is only required for survival of conventional T cells.
Lipid antigens trigger help from natural killer T cells (NKT cells) for B cells, and direct conjugation of lipid agonists to antigen profoundly augments antibody responses. Here we show that in vivo, NKT cells engaged in stable and prolonged cognate interactions with B cells and induced the formation of early germinal centers. Mouse and human NKT cells formed CXCR5(+)PD-1(hi) follicular helper NKT cells (NKT(FH) cells), and this process required expression of the transcriptional repressor Bcl-6, signaling via the coreceptor CD28 and interaction with B cells. NKT(FH) cells provided direct cognate help to antigen-specific B cells that was dependent on interleukin 21 (IL-21). Unlike T cell-dependent germinal centers, those driven by NKT(FH) cells did not generate long-lived plasma cells. Our results demonstrate the existence of a Bcl-6-dependent subset of NKT cells specialized in providing help to B cells.
Many autoimmune diseases exhibit familial aggregation, indicating that they have genetic determinants. Single nucleotide polymorphisms in PTPN2, which encodes T cell protein tyrosine phosphatase (TCPTP), have been linked with the development of several autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes and Crohns disease. In this study, we have identified TCPTP as a key negative regulator of TCR signaling, which might explain the association of PTPN2 SNPs with autoimmune disease. We found that TCPTP dephosphorylates and inactivates Src family kinases to regulate T cell responses. Using T cell-specific TCPTP-deficient mice, we established that TCPTP attenuates T cell activation and proliferation in vitro and blunts antigen-induced responses in vivo. TCPTP deficiency lowered the in vivo threshold for TCR-dependent CD8(+) T cell proliferation. Consistent with this, T cell-specific TCPTP-deficient mice developed widespread inflammation and autoimmunity that was transferable to wild-type recipient mice by CD8(+) T cells alone. This autoimmunity was associated with increased serum levels of proinflammatory cytokines and anti-nuclear antibodies, T cell infiltrates in non-lymphoid tissues, and liver disease. These data indicate that TCPTP is a critical negative regulator of TCR signaling that sets the threshold for TCR-induced naive T cell responses to prevent autoimmune and inflammatory disorders arising.
Natural killer T (NKT) cells are CD1d-restricted, lipid antigen-reactive T cells with powerful immunoregulatory potential. The prototypic antigen for NKT cells is a marine sponge-derived glycolipid, ?-galactosylceramide (?-GalCer), but this is not normally encountered in the mammalian environment. Thus, there is great interest in the identification of more physiological stimuli for NKT cells, and numerous studies have shown that NKT cells are capable of responding to a range of microbial lipid-based antigens. Two new studies expand our understanding of environmental NKT cell stimuli, with one showing that CD1d-restricted NKT cell antigens are present within common house dust extract (HDE), whereas the other shows that NKT cells can respond to innate stimuli irrespective of the presence of foreign microbial antigens. Collectively, these two investigations indicate that NKT cells are far more likely to encounter foreign antigens, or innate activating signals, than previously recognized, suggesting a more central role for these cells in the immune system.
The most potent foreign antigens for natural killer T cells (NKT cells) are ?-linked glycolipids, whereas NKT cell self-reactivity involves weaker recognition of structurally distinct ?-linked glycolipid antigens. Here we provide the mechanism for the autoreactivity of T cell antigen receptors (TCRs) on NKT cells to the mono- and tri-glycosylated ?-linked agonists ?-galactosylceramide (?-GalCer) and isoglobotrihexosylceramide (iGb3), respectively. In binding these disparate antigens, the NKT cell TCRs docked onto CD1d similarly, achieving this by flattening the conformation of the ?-linked ligands regardless of the size of the glycosyl head group. Unexpectedly, the antigenicity of iGb3 was attributable to its terminal sugar group making compensatory interactions with CD1d. Thus, the NKT cell TCR molds the ?-linked self ligands to resemble the conformation of foreign ?-linked ligands, which shows that induced-fit molecular mimicry can underpin the self-reactivity of NKT cell TCRs to ?-linked antigens.
Type I natural killer T cells (NKT cells) are characterized by an invariant variable region 14-joining region 18 (V(?)14-J(?)18) T cell antigen receptor (TCR) ?-chain and recognition of the glycolipid ?-galactosylceramide (?-GalCer) restricted to the antigen-presenting molecule CD1d. Here we describe a population of ?-GalCer-reactive NKT cells that expressed a canonical V(?)10-J(?)50 TCR ?-chain, which showed a preference for ?-glucosylceramide (?-GlcCer) and bacterial ?-glucuronic acid-containing glycolipid antigens. Structurally, despite very limited TCR? sequence identity, the V(?)10 TCR-CD1d-?-GlcCer complex had a docking mode similar to that of type I TCR-CD1d-?-GalCer complexes, although differences at the antigen-binding interface accounted for the altered antigen specificity. Our findings provide new insight into the structural basis and evolution of glycolipid antigen recognition and have notable implications for the scope and immunological role of glycolipid-specific T cell responses.
The role of specific members of the NF-?B family of transcription factors in CD8 T-cell selection and development is largely unknown. Here, we show that mice lacking NF-?B1 develop a unique population of conventional CD8 single-positive (SP) thymocytes with memory T cell-like properties that populate peripheral immune organs. Development of this memory-like population is not due to PLZF(+) thymocytes and instead coincides with changes in CD8 T-cell selection. These include a reduction in the efficiency of negative selection and a dependence on MHC class Ia or Ib expressed by haematopoietic cells. These findings indicate that NF-?B1 regulates multiple events in the thymus that collectively inhibit the excess development of CD8(+) thymocytes with memory cell characteristics.
Naturally occurring anti-carbohydrate antibodies play a major role in both the innate and adaptive immune responses. To elicit an anti-carbohydrate immune response, glycoproteins can be processed to glycopeptides and presented by the classical antigen-presenting molecules, major histocompatibility complex (MHC) Class I and II. In contrast, much less is known about the mechanism(s) for anti-carbohydrate responses to glycolipids, although it is generally considered that the CD1 family of cell surface proteins presents glycolipids to T cells or natural killer T (NKT) cells. Using model carbohydrate systems (isogloboside 3 and B blood group antigen), we examined the anti-carbohydrate response on glycolipids using both antibody neutralisation and knockout mouse-based experiments. These studies showed that CD4(+) T cells were required to generate antibodies to the carbohydrates expressed on glycolipids, and unexpectedly, these antibody responses were CD1d and NKT cell independent. They also did not require peptide help. These data provide new insight into glycolipid antigen recognition by the immune system and indicate the existence of a previously unrecognised population of glycolipid antigen-specific, CD1-independent, CD4(+) T cells.
Natural killer T (NKT) cells respond to a variety of CD1d-restricted antigens (Ags), although the basis for Ag discrimination by the NKT cell receptor (TCR) is unclear. Here we have described NKT TCR fine specificity against several closely related Ags, termed altered glycolipid ligands (AGLs), which differentially stimulate NKT cells. The structures of five ternary complexes all revealed similar docking. Acyl chain modifications did not affect the interaction, but reduced NKT cell proliferation, indicating an affect on Ag processing or presentation. Conversely, truncation of the phytosphingosine chain caused an induced fit mode of TCR binding that affected TCR affinity. Modifications in the glycosyl head group had a direct impact on the TCR interaction and associated cellular response, with ligand potency reflecting the t(1/2) life of the interaction. Accordingly, we have provided a molecular basis for understanding how modifications in AGLs can result in striking alterations in the cellular response of NKT cells.
The antigen receptor for natural killer T cells (NKT TCR) binds CD1d-restricted microbial and self-lipid antigens, although the molecular basis of self-CD1d recognition is unclear. Here, we have characterized NKT TCR recognition of CD1d molecules loaded with natural self-antigens (Ags) and report the 2.3 Å resolution structure of an autoreactive NKT TCR-phosphatidylinositol-CD1d complex. NKT TCR recognition of self- and foreign antigens was underpinned by a similar mode of germline-encoded recognition of CD1d. However, NKT TCR autoreactivity is mediated by unique sequences within the non-germline-encoded CDR3? loop encoding for a hydrophobic motif that promotes self-association with CD1d. Accordingly, NKT cell autoreactivity may arise from the inherent affinity of the interaction between CD1d and the NKT TCR, resulting in the recognition of a broad range of CD1d-restricted self-antigens. This demonstrates that multiple self-antigens can be recognized in a similar manner by autoreactive NKT TCRs.
Powdery mildews are phytopathogens whose growth and reproduction are entirely dependent on living plant cells. The molecular basis of this life-style, obligate biotrophy, remains unknown. We present the genome analysis of barley powdery mildew, Blumeria graminis f.sp. hordei (Blumeria), as well as a comparison with the analysis of two powdery mildews pathogenic on dicotyledonous plants. These genomes display massive retrotransposon proliferation, genome-size expansion, and gene losses. The missing genes encode enzymes of primary and secondary metabolism, carbohydrate-active enzymes, and transporters, probably reflecting their redundancy in an exclusively biotrophic life-style. Among the 248 candidate effectors of pathogenesis identified in the Blumeria genome, very few (less than 10) define a core set conserved in all three mildews, suggesting that most effectors represent species-specific adaptations.
Host cell vesicle traffic is essential for the interplay between plants and microbes. ADP-ribosylation factor (ARF) GTPases are required for vesicle budding, and we studied the role of these enzymes to identify important vesicle transport pathways in the plant-powdery mildew interaction. A combination of transient-induced gene silencing and transient expression of inactive forms of ARF GTPases provided evidence that barley (Hordeum vulgare) ARFA1b/1c function is important for preinvasive penetration resistance against powdery mildew, manifested by formation of a cell wall apposition, named a papilla. Mutant studies indicated that the plasma membrane-localized REQUIRED FOR MLO-SPECIFIED RESISTANCE2 (ROR2) syntaxin, also important for penetration resistance, and ARFA1b/1c function in the same vesicle transport pathway. This was substantiated by a requirement of ARFA1b/1c for ROR2 accumulation in the papilla. ARFA1b/1c is localized to multivesicular bodies, providing a functional link between ROR2 and these organelles in penetration resistance. During Blumeria graminis f sp hordei penetration attempts, ARFA1b/1c-positive multivesicular bodies assemble near the penetration site hours prior to the earliest detection of callose in papillae. Moreover, we showed that ARFA1b/1c is required for callose deposition in papillae and that the papilla structure is established independently of ARFA1b/1c. This raises the possibility that callose is loaded into papillae via multivesicular bodies, rather than being synthesized directly into this cell wall apposition.
CD1d-restricted NKT cells include CD4(+) and DN subsets, with an additional CD8(+) subset that is present in humans but not in mice. The molecular regulation of CD4/CD8 expression by NKT cells, and differentiation of these NKT-cell subsets, is poorly understood. The transcription factors GATA3 and ThPOK regulate lineage commitment of conventional MHC class II-restricted CD4(+) T cells; however, their role in CD4/CD8 expression by CD1d-restricted NKT cells is less clear. A new study in this issue of the European Journal of Immunology demonstrates a key role for ThPOK in differentiation of NKT-cell subsets. This study reveals that GATA3 and ThPOK are necessary for the development of CD4(+) NKT cells. Furthermore, ThPOK-deficient mice generate an unusual population of CD8(+) NKT cells, which are absent in control mice. This study sheds new light on the underlying molecular events leading to the emergence of distinct NKT-cell subsets.
The nuclear factor (NF)-?B signalling pathway is known to be critical for natural killer T (NKT) cell differentiation; however, the role of individual NF-?B transcription factors and the precise developmental stages that they control remain unclear. We have investigated the influence of the classical NF-?B transcription factors NF-?B1, c-Rel and RelA on NKT cell development and function, using gene-deleted mice. Individually, none of these factors were essential for the requirement of NF-?B signalling in early NKT cell development before NK1.1 expression, in contrast to earlier reports in which the classical NF-?B pathway was globally disrupted. Instead, we found that each factor played a non-redundant role in later stages of NKT cell maturation and function. Although NF-?B1 deficiency resulted in a moderate reduction in mature NK1.1+ NKT cells, this was found to be more subtle than previously reported. RelA deficiency had a more profound effect on the NK1.1+ stage of NKT cell development, whereas c-Rel-deficient mice had normal NKT cell numbers. All three factors (NF-?B1, RelA and c-Rel) were necessary for normal NKT cell cytokine production. Notably, IL-17, which is produced by a specific subset of NKT cells (NKT-17 cells), defined as NK1.1(-)CD4(-), was not impaired by a lack of these individual NF-?B transcription factors, nor was this subset depleted, suggesting that NKT-17 cells are regulated independently of the NF-?B pathway. Thus, individual NF-?B family members have a largely redundant role in early NKT cell development, but each of them has an important and distinct role in NKT cell maturation and/or function.
The pre-T-cell antigen receptor (pre-TCR), expressed by immature thymocytes, has a pivotal role in early T-cell development, including TCR ?-selection, survival and proliferation of CD4(-)CD8(-) double-negative thymocytes, and subsequent ?? T-cell lineage differentiation. Whereas ??TCR ligation by the peptide-loaded major histocompatibility complex initiates T-cell signalling, pre-TCR-induced signalling occurs by means of a ligand-independent dimerization event. The pre-TCR comprises an invariant ?-chain (pre-T?) that pairs with any TCR ?-chain (TCR?) following successful TCR ?-gene rearrangement. Here we provide the basis of pre-T?-TCR? assembly and pre-TCR dimerization. The pre-T? chain comprised a single immunoglobulin-like domain that is structurally distinct from the constant (C) domain of the TCR ?-chain; nevertheless, the mode of association between pre-T? and TCR? mirrored that mediated by the C?-C? domains of the ??TCR. The pre-TCR had a propensity to dimerize in solution, and the molecular envelope of the pre-TCR dimer correlated well with the observed head-to-tail pre-TCR dimer. This mode of pre-TCR dimerization enabled the pre-T? domain to interact with the variable (V) ? domain through residues that are highly conserved across the V? and joining (J) ? gene families, thus mimicking the interactions at the core of the ??TCRs V?-V? interface. Disruption of this pre-T?-V? dimer interface abrogated pre-TCR dimerization in solution and impaired pre-TCR expression on the cell surface. Accordingly, we provide a mechanism of pre-TCR self-association that allows the pre-T? chain to simultaneously sample the correct folding of both the V and C domains of any TCR ?-chain, regardless of its ultimate specificity, which represents a critical checkpoint in T-cell development. This unusual dual-chaperone-like sensing function of pre-T? represents a unique mechanism in nature whereby developmental quality control regulates the expression and signalling of an integral membrane receptor complex.
Germinal centers (GCs) are sites of B cell proliferation, somatic hypermutation, and selection of variants with improved affinity for antigen. Long-lived memory B cells and plasma cells are also generated in GCs, although how B cell differentiation in GCs is regulated is unclear. IL-21, secreted by T follicular helper cells, is important for adaptive immune responses, although there are conflicting reports on its target cells and mode of action in vivo. We show that the absence of IL-21 signaling profoundly affects the B cell response to protein antigen, reducing splenic and bone marrow plasma cell formation and GC persistence and function, influencing their proliferation, transition into memory B cells, and affinity maturation. Using bone marrow chimeras, we show that these activities are primarily a result of CD3-expressing cells producing IL-21 that acts directly on B cells. Molecularly, IL-21 maintains expression of Bcl-6 in GC B cells. The absence of IL-21 or IL-21 receptor does not abrogate the appearance of T cells in GCs or the appearance of CD4 T cells with a follicular helper phenotype. IL-21 thus controls fate choices of GC B cells directly.
Natural killer T cells (NKT cells) are CD1d-restricted, lipid antigen-reactive, immunoregulatory T lymphocytes that can promote cell-mediated immunity to tumors and infectious organisms, including bacteria and viruses, yet paradoxically they can also suppress the cell-mediated immunity associated with autoimmune disease and allograft rejection. Furthermore, in some diseases, such as atherosclerosis and allergy, NKT cell activity can be deleterious to the host. Although the precise means by which these cells carry out such contrasting functions is unclear, recent studies have highlighted the existence of many functionally distinct NKT cell subsets. Because their frequency and number vary widely between individuals, it is important to understand the mechanisms that regulate the development and maintenance of NKT cells and subsets thereof, which is the subject of this review.
Cross-priming allows dendritic cells (DCs) to induce cytotoxic T cell (CTL) responses to extracellular antigens. DCs require cognate licensing for cross-priming, classically by helper T cells. Here we demonstrate an alternative mechanism for cognate licensing by natural killer T (NKT) cells recognizing microbial or synthetic glycolipid antigens. Such licensing caused cross-priming CD8alpha(+) DCs to produce the chemokine CCL17, which attracted naive CTLs expressing the chemokine receptor CCR4. In contrast, DCs licensed by helper T cells recruited CTLs using CCR5 ligands. Thus, depending on the type of antigen they encounter, DCs can be licensed for cross-priming by NKT cells or helper T cells and use at least two independent chemokine pathways to attract naive CTLs. Because these chemokines acted synergistically, this can potentially be exploited to improve vaccinations.
Powdery mildew and rust fungi are widespread, serious pathogens that depend on developing haustoria in the living plant cells. Haustoria are separated from the host cytoplasm by a plant cell-derived extrahaustorial membrane. They secrete effector proteins, some of which are subsequently transferred across this membrane to the plant cell to suppress defense.
NKT cells can promote or inhibit adaptive immune responses. Cutaneous immunity is tightly regulated by cooperation between innate and adaptive immune processes, but the role of NKT cells in regulating cutaneous immunity is largely unknown. In this study, we show, in a mouse model, that skin-infiltrating CD1d-restricted NKT cells in HPV16-E7 transgenic hyperplastic skin produce IFN-gamma, which can prevent rejection of HPV16-E7-expressing skin grafts. Suppression of graft rejection is associated with the accumulation of CD1d(hi)-expressing CD11c(+)F4/80(hi) myeloid cells in hyperplastic skin. Blockade of CD1d, removal of NKT cells, or local inhibition of IFN-gamma signaling is sufficient to restore immune-mediated graft rejection. Thus, inhibition of NKT cell recruitment or function may enable effective immunity against tumor and viral Ags expressed in epithelial cells.
IL-21 has antitumor activity through actions on NK cells and CD8(+) T cells, and is currently in clinical development for the treatment of cancer. However, no studies have addressed the role of endogenous IL-21 in tumor immunity. In this study, we have studied both primary and secondary immune responses in IL-21(-/-) and IL-21R(-/-) mice against several experimental tumors. We found intact immune surveillance toward methylcholanthrene-induced sarcomas in IL-21(-/-) and IL-21R(-/-) mice compared with wild-type mice and B16 melanomas showed equal growth kinetics and development of lung metastases. IL-21R(-/-) mice showed competent NK cell-mediated rejection of NKG2D ligand (Rae1beta) expressing H-2b(-) RMAS lymphomas and sustained transition to CD8(+) T cell-dependent memory against H-2b(+) RMA lymphomas. alpha-Galactosylceramide stimulation showed equal expansion and activation of NKT and NK cells and mounted a powerful antitumor response in the absence of IL-21 signaling, despite reduced expression of granzyme B in NKT, NK, and CD8(+) T cells. Surprisingly, host IL-21 significantly restricted the expansion of Ag-specific CD8(+) T cells and inhibited primary CD8(+) T cell immunity against OVA-expressing EG7 lymphomas, as well as the secondary expansion of memory CD8(+) T cells. However, host IL-21 did not alter the growth of less immunogenic MC38 colon carcinomas with dim OVA expression. Overall, our results show that endogenous IL-21/IL-21R is not required for NK, NKT, and CD8(+) T cell-mediated tumor immunity, but restricts Ag-specific CD8(+) T cell expansion and rejection of immunogenic tumors, indicating novel immunosuppressive actions of this cytokine.
alphabeta T cell receptors (TCRs) have traditionally been viewed as receptors for peptide antigens presented by either Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) class I (for CD8 T cells) or MHC class II (for CD4 T cells) antigen-presenting molecules. However, it is now clear that some T cell lineages express TCRs that are specialized for recognition of lipid-based antigens presented by the MHC class I-like CD1 family. Recently, the molecular basis for the TCR recognition of glycolipid antigens presented by CD1d has revealed an evolutionarily conserved-docking mode that is distinct from that of peptide-based recognition. T cells carrying these receptors follow a unique developmental pathway that results not only in unconventional antigen specificity, but also seemingly exaggerated functional capabilities, which makes these cells and their antigens highly attractive targets for immunotherapeutic manipulation.
A number of fungal and oomycete plant pathogens of major economic importance feed on their hosts by means of haustoria, which they place inside living plant cells. The underlying mechanisms are poorly understood, partly due to difficulty in preparing haustoria. We have therefore developed a procedure for isolating haustoria from the barley powdery mildew fungus (Blumeria graminis f.sp. hordei, Bgh). We subsequently aimed to understand the molecular mechanisms of haustoria through a study of their proteome. Extracted proteins were digested using trypsin, separated by LC, and analysed by MS/MS. Searches of a custom Bgh EST sequence database and the NCBI-NR fungal protein database, using the MS/MS data, identified 204 haustoria proteins. The majority of the proteins appear to have roles in protein metabolic pathways and biological energy production. Surprisingly, pyruvate decarboxylase (PDC), involved in alcoholic fermentation and commonly abundant in fungi and plants, was absent in our Bgh proteome data set. A sequence encoding this enzyme was also absent in our EST sequence database. Significantly, BLAST searches of the recently available Bgh genome sequence data also failed to identify a sequence encoding this enzyme, strongly indicating that Bgh does not have a gene for PDC.
The semi-invariant natural killer (NK) T-cell receptor (NKTcr) recognises structurally diverse glycolipid antigens presented by the monomorphic CD1d molecule. While the alpha-chain of the NKTcr is invariant, the beta-chain is more diverse, but how this diversity enables the NKTcr to recognise diverse antigens, such as an alpha-linked monosaccharide (alpha-galactosylceramide and alpha-galactosyldiacylglycerol) and the beta-linked trisaccharide (isoglobotriaosylceramide), is unclear. We demonstrate here that NKTcrs, which varied in their beta-chain usage, recognised diverse glycolipid antigens with a similar binding mode on CD1d. Nevertheless, the NKTcrs recognised distinct epitopic sites within these antigens, including alpha-galactosylceramide, the structurally similar alpha-galactosyldiacylglycerol and the very distinct isoglobotriaosylceramide. We also show that the relative roles of the CDR loops within the NKTcr beta-chain varied as a function of the antigen. Thus, while NKTcrs characteristically use a conserved docking mode, the NKTcr beta-chain allows these cells to recognise unique aspects of structurally diverse CD1d-restricted ligands.
Mouse type I natural killer T cell receptors (iNKT TCRs) use a single V alpha 14-J alpha 18 sequence and V beta s that are almost always V beta 8.2, V beta 7, or V beta 2, although the basis of this differential usage is unclear. We showed that the V beta bias occurred as a consequence of the CDR2 beta loops determining the affinity of the iNKT TCR for CD1d-glycolipids, thus controlling positive selection. Within a conserved iNKT-TCR-CD1d docking framework, these inherent V beta-CD1d affinities are further modulated by the hypervariable CDR3 beta loop, thereby defining a functional interplay between the two iNKT TCR CDR beta loops. These V beta biases revealed a broadly hierarchical response in which V beta 8.2 > V beta 7 > V beta 2 in the recognition of diverse CD1d ligands. This restriction of the iNKT TCR repertoire during thymic selection paradoxically ensures that each peripheral iNKT cell recognizes a similar spectrum of antigens.
The semi-invariant natural killer T cell receptor (NKT TCR) recognizes CD1d-lipid antigens. Although the TCR alpha chain is typically invariant, the beta chain expression is more diverse, where three V beta chains are commonly expressed in mice. We report the structures of V alpha 14-V beta 8.2 and V alpha 14-V beta 7 NKT TCRs in complex with CD1d-alpha-galactosylceramide (alpha-GalCer) and the 2.5 A structure of the human NKT TCR-CD1d-alpha-GalCer complex. Both V beta 8.2 and V beta 7 NKT TCRs and the human NKT TCR ligated CD1d-alpha-GalCer in a similar manner, highlighting the evolutionarily conserved interaction. However, differences within the V beta domains of the V beta 8.2 and V beta 7 NKT TCR-CD1d complexes resulted in altered TCR beta-CD1d-mediated contacts and modulated recognition mediated by the invariant alpha chain. Mutagenesis studies revealed the differing contributions of V beta 8.2 and V beta 7 residues within the CDR2 beta loop in mediating contacts with CD1d. Collectively we provide a structural basis for the differential NKT TCR V beta usage in NKT cells.
Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) is often used to hasten neutrophil recovery after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT), but the clinical and immunological consequences evoked remain unclear. We examined the effect of G-CSF administration after transplantation in mouse models and found that exposure to either standard G-CSF or pegylated-G-CSF soon after BMT substantially increased graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). This effect was dependent on total body irradiation (TBI) rendering host dendritic cells (DCs) responsive to G-CSF by upregulating their expression of the G-CSF receptor. Stimulation of host DCs by G-CSF subsequently unleashed a cascade of events characterized by donor natural killer T cell (NKT cell) activation, interferon-gamma secretion and CD40-dependent amplification of donor cytotoxic T lymphocyte function during the effector phase of GVHD. Crucially, the detrimental effects of G-CSF were only present when it was administered after TBI conditioning and at a time when residual host antigen presenting cells were still present, perhaps explaining the conflicting and somewhat controversial clinical studies from the large European and North American BMT registries. These data have major implications for the use of G-CSF in disease states where NKT cell activation may have effects on outcome.
CD1d-restricted T cells are considered to play a host protective effect in tumor immunity, yet the evidence for a role of natural killer T (NKT) cells in tumor immune surveillance has been weak and data from several tumor models has suggested that some (type II) CD1d-restricted T cells may also suppress some types of antitumor immune response. To substantiate an important role for CD1d-restricted T cells in host response to cancer, we have evaluated tumor development in p53(+/-) mice lacking either type I NKT cells (TCR Jalpha18(-/-)) or all CD1d-restricted T cells (CD1d(-/-)). Our findings support a key role for type I NKT cells in suppressing the onset of sarcomas and hematopoietic cancers caused by p53 loss but do not suggest that other CD1d-restricted T cells are critical in regulating the same tumor development.
NKT cells are a specialized population of T lymphocytes that have an increasingly recognized role in immunoregulation, including controlling the response to viral infections. The characteristics of NKT cells in the peripheral blood of macaques during simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) or chimeric simian/human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) (SHIV) infection were assessed. NKT cells comprised a mean of 0.19% of peripheral blood lymphocytes across the 64 uninfected macaques studied. Although the range in the percentages of NKT cells was large (0 to 2.2%), levels were stable over time within individual macaques without SIV/SHIV infection. The majority of NKT cells in macaques were CD4(+) (on average 67%) with smaller populations being CD8(+) (21%) and CD4/CD8 double positive (13%). A precipitous decline in CD4(+) NKT cells occurred in all six macaques infected with CXCR4-tropic SHIV(mn229) early after infection, with a concomitant rise in CD8(+) NKT cells in some animals. The depletion of CD4(+) NKT cells was tightly correlated with the depletion of total CD4(+) T cells. R5-tropic SIV(mac251) infection of macaques resulted in a slower and more variable decline in CD4(+) NKT cells, with animals that were able to control SIV virus levels maintaining higher levels of CD4(+) NKT cells. An inverse correlation between the depletion of total and CD4(+) NKT cells and SIV viral load during chronic infection was observed. Our results demonstrate the infection-driven depletion of peripheral CD4(+) NKT cells during both SHIV and SIV infection of macaques. Further studies of the implications of the loss of NKT cell subsets in the pathogenesis of HIV disease are needed.
Current influenza A virus vaccines do not generate significant immunity against serologically distinct influenza A virus subtypes and would thus be ineffective in the face of a pandemic caused by a novel variant emerging from, say, a wildlife reservoir. One possible solution would be to modify these vaccines so that they prime cross-reactive CD8(+) cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) cell-mediated immunity directed at conserved viral epitopes. A further strategy is to use novel adjuvants, such as the immunomodulatory glycolipid alpha-galactosylceramide (alpha-GalCer). We show here that giving alpha-GalCer with an inactivated influenza A virus has the paradoxical effect of diminishing acute CTL immunity via natural killer T (NKT) cell-dependent expression of indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), an important mediator of immune suppression, while at the same time promoting the survival of long-lived memory CTL populations capable of boosting protection against heterologous influenza A virus challenge. This enhancement of memory was likely due to the alpha-GalCer-induced upregulation of prosurvival genes, such as bcl-2, and points to the potential of alpha-GalCer as an adjuvant for promoting optimal, vaccine-induced CD8(+) T cell memory.
In the present study, we have examined the effect of perforin (pfp) deficiency in 4 models of mouse B-cell lymphomagenesis. We have examined pfp loss on the background of either Mlh1 tumor suppressor allele loss or oncogene expression [Ig heavy chain (Emu)-v-Abl, Emu-myc, and vav-bcl2]. Pfp was shown to act as a suppressor of B-cell malignancies characteristically driven by v-Abl or bcl-2, whereas Mlh loss cooperated in accelerating spontaneous B-cell lymphomas characteristic of pfp loss. No protective role for pfp was observed in the more aggressive Emu-myc model of B-cell lymphoma. These transgenic models have allowed us to distinguish the role of pfp in surveillance of B-cell lymphomagenesis, as opposed to its loss simply driving the onset of a spontaneous lymphoma characteristic of pfp deficiency.
Natural killer T (NKT) cells are innate-like T cells that rapidly produce a variety of cytokines following T cell receptor (TCR) activation and can shape the immune response in many different settings. There are two main NKT cell subsets: type I NKT cells are typically characterized by the expression of a semi-invariant TCR, whereas the TCRs expressed by type II NKT cells are more diverse. This Review focuses on the defining features and emerging generalities regarding how NKT cells specifically recognize self, microbial and synthetic lipid-based antigens that are presented by CD1d. Such information is vitally important to better understand, and fully harness, the therapeutic potential of NKT cells.
CD1d-dependent NKT cells represent a heterogeneous family of effector T cells including CD4(+)CD8(-) and CD4(-)CD8(-) subsets that respond to glycolipid Ags with rapid and potent cytokine production. NKT cell development is regulated by a unique combination of factors, however very little is known about factors that control the development of NKT subsets. In this study, we analyze a novel mouse strain (helpless) with a mis-sense mutation in the BTB-POZ domain of ZBTB7B and demonstrate that this mutation has dramatic, intrinsic effects on development of NKT cell subsets. Although NKT cell numbers are similar in Zbtb7b mutant mice, these cells are hyperproliferative and most lack CD4 and instead express CD8. Moreover, the majority of ZBTB7B mutant NKT cells in the thymus are retinoic acid-related orphan receptor ?t positive, and a high frequency produce IL-17 while very few produce IFN-? or other cytokines, sharply contrasting the profile of normal NKT cells. Mice heterozygous for the helpless mutation also have reduced numbers of CD4(+) NKT cells and increased production of IL-17 without an increase in CD8(+) cells, suggesting that ZBTB7B acts at multiple stages of NKT cell development. These results reveal ZBTB7B as a critical factor genetically predetermining the balance of effector subsets within the NKT cell population.
Antigen-presenting molecules, encoded by the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) and CD1 family, bind peptide- and lipid-based antigens, respectively, for recognition by T cells. Mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells are an abundant population of innate-like T cells in humans that are activated by an antigen(s) bound to the MHC class I-like molecule MR1. Although the identity of MR1-restricted antigen(s) is unknown, it is present in numerous bacteria and yeast. Here we show that the structure and chemistry within the antigen-binding cleft of MR1 is distinct from the MHC and CD1 families. MR1 is ideally suited to bind ligands originating from vitamin metabolites. The structure of MR1 in complex with 6-formyl pterin, a folic acid (vitamin B9) metabolite, shows the pterin ring sequestered within MR1. Furthermore, we characterize related MR1-restricted vitamin derivatives, originating from the bacterial riboflavin (vitamin B2) biosynthetic pathway, which specifically and potently activate MAIT cells. Accordingly, we show that metabolites of vitamin B represent a class of antigen that are presented by MR1 for MAIT-cell immunosurveillance. As many vitamin biosynthetic pathways are unique to bacteria and yeast, our data suggest that MAIT cells use these metabolites to detect microbial infection.
Human and mouse type I natural killer T (NKT) cells respond to a variety of CD1d-restricted glycolipid antigens (Ags), with their NKT cell antigen receptors (NKT TCRs) exhibiting reciprocal cross-species reactivity that is underpinned by a conserved NKT TCR-CD1d-Ag docking mode. Within this common docking footprint, the NKT TCR recognizes, to varying degrees of affinity, a range of Ags. Presently, it is unclear whether the human NKT TCRs will mirror the generalities underpinning the fine specificity of the mouse NKT TCR-CD1d-Ag interaction. Here, we assessed human NKT TCR recognition against altered glycolipid ligands of ?-galactosylceramide (?-GalCer) and have determined the structures of a human NKT TCR in complex with CD1d-4,4?-deoxy-?-GalCer and CD1d-?-GalCer with a shorter, di-unsaturated acyl chain (C20:2). Altered glycolipid ligands with acyl chain modifications did not affect the affinity of the human NKT TCR-CD1d-Ag interaction. Surprisingly, human NKT TCR recognition is more tolerant to modifications at the 4-OH position in comparison with the 3-OH position of ?-GalCer, which contrasts the fine specificity of the mouse NKT TCR-CD1d-Ag recognition (4-OH > 3-OH). The fine specificity differences between human and mouse NKT TCRs was attributable to differing interactions between the respective complementarity-determining region 1? loops and the Ag. Accordingly, germline encoded fine-specificity differences underpin human and mouse type I NKT TCR interactions, which is an important consideration for therapeutic development and NKT cell physiology.
Natural killer T cells (NKT cells) are divided into type I and type II subsets on the basis of differences in their T cell antigen receptor (TCR) repertoire and CD1d-antigen specificity. Although the mode by which type I NKT cell TCRs recognize CD1d-antigen has been established, how type II NKT cell TCRs engage CD1d-antigen is unknown. Here we provide a basis for how a type II NKT cell TCR, XV19, recognized CD1d-sulfatide. The XV19 TCR bound orthogonally above the A pocket of CD1d, in contrast to the parallel docking of type I NKT cell TCRs over the F pocket of CD1d. At the XV19 TCR-CD1d-sulfatide interface, the TCR? and TCR? chains sat centrally on CD1d, where the malleable CDR3 loops dominated interactions with CD1d-sulfatide. Accordingly, we highlight the diverse mechanisms by which NKT cell TCRs can bind CD1d and account for the distinct antigen specificity of type II NKT cells.
NKT cells are key mediators of antiviral and anticancer immunity. Experiments in mice have demonstrated that activation of NKT cells in vivo induces the expression of multiple effector molecules critical to successful immunity. Human clinical trials have shown similar responses, although in vivo activation of NKT cells in humans or primate models are far more limited in number and scope. Measuring ex vivo activation of NKT cells by the CD1d-restricted glycolipid ligand ?-Galactosylceramide (?-GalCer) through cytokine expression profiles is a useful marker of NKT cell function, but for reasons that are unclear, this approach does not appear to work as well in humans and non-human primate macaque models in comparison to mice. We performed a series of experiments on human and macaque (Macaca nemestrina) fresh whole blood samples to define optimal conditions to detect NKT cell cytokine (TNF, IFN?, IL-2) and degranulation marker (CD107a) expression by flow cytometry. We found that conditions previously described for mouse splenocyte NKT cell activation were suboptimal on human or macaque blood NKT cells. In contrast, a 6h incubation with brefeldin A added for the last 4h, in a 96-well plate based assay, and using an ?-GalCer concentration of 1 ?g/ml were optimal methods to stimulate NKT cells in fresh blood from both humans and macaques. Unexpectedly, we noted that blood NKT cells from macaques infected with SIV were more readily activated by ?-GalCer than NKT cells from uninfected macaques, suggesting that SIV infection may have primed the NKT cells. In conclusion, we describe optimized methods for the ex vivo antigen-specific activation of human and macaque blood NKT cells. These assays should be useful in monitoring NKT cells in disease and in immunotherapy studies.
Single nucleotide polymorphisms in the gene encoding the protein tyrosine phosphatase TCPTP (encoded by PTPN2) have been linked with the development of autoimmunity. Here we have used Cre/LoxP recombination to generate Ptpn2(ex2-/ex2-) mice with a global deficiency in TCPTP on a C57BL/6 background and compared the phenotype of these mice to Ptpn2(-/-) mice (BALB/c-129SJ) generated previously by homologous recombination and backcrossed onto the BALB/c background. Ptpn2(ex2-/ex2-) mice exhibited growth retardation and a median survival of 32 days, as compared to 21 days for Ptpn2(-/-) (BALB/c) mice, but the overt signs of morbidity (hunched posture, piloerection, decreased mobility and diarrhoea) evident in Ptpn2(-/-) (BALB/c) mice were not detected in Ptpn2(ex2-/ex2-) mice. At 14 days of age, bone development was delayed in Ptpn2(-/-) (BALB/c) mice. This was associated with increased trabecular bone mass and decreased bone remodeling, a phenotype that was not evident in Ptpn2(ex2-/ex2-) mice. Ptpn2(ex2-/ex2-) mice had defects in erythropoiesis and B cell development as evident in Ptpn2(-/-) (BALB/c) mice, but not splenomegaly and did not exhibit an accumulation of myeloid cells in the spleen as seen in Ptpn2(-/-) (BALB/c) mice. Moreover, thymic atrophy, another feature of Ptpn2(-/-) (BALB/c) mice, was delayed in Ptpn2(ex2-/ex2-) mice and preceded by an increase in thymocyte positive selection and a concomitant increase in lymph node T cells. Backcrossing Ptpn2(-/-) (BALB/c) mice onto the C57BL/6 background largely recapitulated the phenotype of Ptpn2(ex2-/ex2-) mice. Taken together these results reaffirm TCPTPs important role in lymphocyte development and indicate that the effects on morbidity, mortality, bone development and the myeloid compartment are strain-dependent.
Mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells express a semiinvariant ?? T cell receptor (TCR) that binds MHC class I-like molecule (MR1). However, the molecular basis for MAIT TCR recognition by MR1 is unknown. In this study, we present the crystal structure of a human V?7.2J?33-V?2 MAIT TCR. Mutagenesis revealed highly conserved requirements for the MAIT TCR-MR1 interaction across different human MAIT TCRs stimulated by distinct microbial sources. Individual residues within the MAIT TCR ? chain were dispensable for the interaction with MR1, whereas the invariant MAIT TCR ? chain controlled specificity through a small number of residues, which are conserved across species and located within the V?-J? regions. Mutagenesis of MR1 showed that only two residues, which were centrally positioned and on opposing sides of the antigen-binding cleft of MR1, were essential for MAIT cell activation. The mutagenesis data are consistent with a centrally located MAIT TCR-MR1 docking that was dominated by the ? chain of the MAIT TCR. This candidate docking mode contrasts with that of the NKT TCR-CD1d-antigen interaction, in which both the ? and ? chain of the NKT TCR is required for ligation above the F-pocket of CD1d.
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