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J Immunol. 2003 Sep 15;171(6):2960-9.

Differential chemokine responses and homing patterns of murine TCR alpha beta NKT cell subsets.

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Laboratory of Immunology and Vascular Biology, Department of Pathology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


NKT cells play important roles in the regulation of diverse immune responses. Therefore, chemokine receptor expression and chemotactic responses of murine TCRalphabeta NKT cells were examined to define their homing potential. Most NKT cells stained for the chemokine receptor CXCR3, while >90% of Valpha14i-positive and approximately 50% of Valpha14i-negative NKT cells expressed CXCR6 via an enhanced green fluorescent protein reporter construct. CXCR4 expression was higher on Valpha14i-negative than Valpha14i-positive NKT cells. In spleen only, subsets of Valpha14i-positive and -negative NKT cells also expressed CXCR5. NKT cell subsets migrated in response to ligands for the inflammatory chemokine receptors CXCR3 (monokine induced by IFN-gamma/CXC ligand (CXCL)9) and CXCR6 (CXCL16), and regulatory chemokine receptors CCR7 (secondary lymphoid-tissue chemokine (SLC)/CC ligand (CCL)21), CXCR4 (stromal cell-derived factor-1/CXCL12), and CXCR5 (B cell-attracting chemokine-1/CXCL13); but not to ligands for other chemokine receptors. Two NKT cell subsets migrated in response to the lymphoid homing chemokine SLC/CCL21: CD4(-) Valpha14i-negative NKT cells that were L-selectin(high) and enriched for expression of Ly49G2 (consistent with the phenotype of most NKT cells found in peripheral lymph nodes); and immature Valpha14i-positive cells lacking NK1.1 and L-selectin. Mature NK1.1(+) Valpha14i-positive NKT cells did not migrate to SLC/CCL21. BCA-1/CXCL13, which mediates homing to B cell zones, elicited migration of Valpha14i-positive and -negative NKT cells in the spleen. These cells were primarily CD4(+) or CD4(-)CD8(-) and were enriched for Ly49C/I, but not Ly49G2. Low levels of chemotaxis to CXCL16 were only detected in Valpha14i-positive NKT cell subsets. Our results identify subsets of NKT cells with distinct homing and localization patterns, suggesting that these populations play specialized roles in immunological processes in vivo.

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