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J Immunol. 2002 Jun 1;168(11):5514-20.

Valpha24-JalphaQ-independent, CD1d-restricted recognition of alpha-galactosylceramide by human CD4(+) and CD8alphabeta(+) T lymphocytes.

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  • 1Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine, Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, United Kingdom.


Human CD1d molecules present an unknown ligand, mimicked by the synthetic glycosphingolipid alpha-galactosylceramide (alphaGC), to a highly conserved NKT cell subset expressing an invariant TCR Valpha24-JalphaQ paired with Vbeta11 chain (Valpha24(+)Vbeta11(+) invariant NK T cell (NKT(inv))). The developmental pathway of Valpha24(+)Vbeta11(+)NKT(inv) is still unclear, but recent studies in mice were consistent with a TCR instructive, rather than a stochastic, model of differentiation. Using CD1d-alphaGC-tetramers, we demonstrate that in humans, TCR variable domains other than Valpha24 and Vbeta11 can mediate specific recognition of CD1d-alphaGC. In contrast to Valpha24(+)Vbeta11(+)NKT(inv) cells, Valpha24(-)/CD1d-alphaGC-specific T cells express either CD8alphabeta or CD4 molecules, but they are never CD4 CD8 double negative. We show that CD8alphabeta(+)Valpha24(-)/CD1d-alphaGC-specific T cells exhibit CD8-dependent specific cytotoxicity and have lower affinity TCRs than Valpha24(+)/CD1d-alphaGC-specific T cells. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that, contrary to the currently held view, recognition of CD1d-alphaGC complex in humans is not uniformly restricted to the Valpha24-JalphaQ/Vbeta11 NKT cell subset, but can be mediated by a diverse range of Valpha and Vbeta domains. The existence of a diverse repertoire of CD1d-alphaGC-specific T cells in humans strongly supports their Ag-driven selection.

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