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Annu Rev Immunol. 2003;21:483-513. Epub 2001 Dec 19.

The regulatory role of Valpha14 NKT cells in innate and acquired immune response.

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  • 1Laboratory of Immune Regulation, RIKEN Research Center for Allergy and Immunology, Chuo-ku, Chiba 260-8670, Japan.


A novel lymphocyte lineage, Valpha14 natural killer T (NKT) cells, is now well established as distinct from conventional alphabeta T cells. Valpha14 NKT cells express a single invariant Valpha14 antigen receptor that is essential for their development. Successful identification of a specific ligand, alpha-galactosylceramide(alpha-GalCer), and the establishment of gene-manipulated mice with selective loss of Valpha14 NKT cells helped elucidate the remarkable functional diversity of Valpha14 NKT cells in various immune responses such as host defense by mediating anti-nonself innate immune reaction, homeostatic regulation of anti-self responses, and antitumor immunity.

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