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J Immunol. 2001 Mar 15;166(6):3655-8.

Cutting edge: human gamma delta T cells are activated by intermediates of the 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate pathway of isoprenoid biosynthesis.

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  • 1Jomaa Pharmaka GmbH, Giessen, Germany.


Activation of V gamma 9/V delta 2 T cells by small nonprotein Ags is frequently observed after infection with various viruses, bacteria, and eukaryotic parasites. We suggested earlier that compounds synthesized by the 2-C:-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway of isopentenyl pyrophosphate synthesis are responsible for the V gamma 9/V delta 2 T cell reactivity of many pathogens. Using genetically engineered Escherichia coli knockout strains, we now demonstrate that the ability of E. coli extracts to stimulate gamma delta T cell proliferation is abrogated when genes coding for essential enzymes of the MEP pathway, dxr or gcpE, are disrupted or deleted from the bacterial genome.

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