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Nat Immunol. 2008 Sep;9(9):1055-64. doi: 10.1038/ni.1641. Epub 2008 Jul 27.

The BTB-zinc finger transcriptional regulator PLZF controls the development of invariant natural killer T cell effector functions.

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  • 1Immunology Program, Sloan-Kettering Institute, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 10065, USA.


Invariant natural killer T cells (iNKT cells) have an innate immunity-like rapidity of response and the ability to modulate the effector functions of other cells. We show here that iNKT cells specifically expressed the BTB-zinc finger transcriptional regulator PLZF. In the absence of PLZF, iNKT cells developed, but they lacked many features of innate T cells. PLZF-deficient iNKT cells accumulated in lymph nodes rather than in the liver, did not express NK markers and did not have the characteristic activated phenotype. PLZF-deficient iNKT cells failed to secrete large amounts of interleukin 4 and interferon-gamma after activation; however, some cells produced either interleukin 4 or interferon-gamma but not both. PLZF, therefore, is an iNKT cell-specific transcription factor that is necessary for full functionality.

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