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J Immunol. 2006 Feb 1;176(3):1421-30.

A cell-type specific CD1d expression program modulates invariant NKT cell development and function.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Invariant NK T (iNKT) cells are a distinct subset of T cells that rapidly produce an array of immunoregulatory cytokines upon activation. Cytokines produced by iNKT cells subsequently transactivate other leukocytes and elicit their respective effector functions. In this way, iNKT cells play a central role in coordinating the development of immune responses in a variety of settings. However, the mechanisms governing the quality of the iNKT cell response elicited remain poorly defined. To address whether changes in the CD1d expression pattern could regulate iNKT cell function, we generated a transgenic (Tg) mouse model in which thymocytes and peripheral T cells express high levels of CD1d (Lck-CD1d Tg+ mice). The expression of CD1d by T cells was sufficient to rescue development of iNKT cells in mice deficient of endogenous CD1d. However, the relative proportions of iNKT cell subsets in Lck-CD1d Tg+ mice were distinctly different from those in wild-type mice, suggesting an altered developmental program. Additionally, iNKT cells were hyporesponsive to antigenic stimulation in vivo. Interestingly, Lck-CD1d Tg+ mice develop liver pathology in the absence of any exogenous manipulation. The results of these studies suggest that changes to the CD1d expression program modulate iNKT cell development and function.

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