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J Immunotoxicol. 2012 Jul-Sep;9(3):259-66. doi: 10.3109/1547691X.2012.685528. Epub 2012 May 27.

Licensing of killer dendritic cells in mouse and humans: functional similarities between IKDC and human blood γδ T-lymphocytes.

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  • 1Unit of Molecular Haematology and Cancer Biology, UCL Institute of Child Health, London, UK.


Dendritic cells are characterized by the ability to induce primary antigen-specific immune responses in both major histocompatibility complex (MHC) Class I-restricted CD8 cells and MHC Class II-restricted CD4 cells. This professional antigen presentation function is associated with the up-regulation of co-stimulatory molecules and Class II MHC. While it has been recognized that several types of innate lymphocytes in mouse and humans can express co-stimulatory molecules and present antigen, the property of antigen presentation to elicit responses in naïve cells has been considered the exclusive domain of the dendritic cell. This concept has been challenged through the description of innate lymphocytes, capable of killing using NK receptors, but also up-regulating co-stimulatory molecules and driving the antigen-specific proliferation of naïve lymphocytes to the same extent as dendritic cells. Interferon (IFN)-γ secreting killer dendritic cells (IKDC) have been described in mice and share immunophenotypic properties of both dendritic cells and natural killer cells. Human blood γδ T-lymphocytes have innate tumor cell killing properties by both antibody-dependent and natural killer receptor-dependent mechanisms. This article reviews data from the authors' own laboratory showing a particular feature in common between the mouse IKDC and human blood γδ T-lymphocytes; namely their requirement for interaction with a target cell for specific licensing for professional antigen presentation.

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