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Nat Immunol. 2006 Sep;7(9):978-86. Epub 2006 Aug 20.

Natural killer T cells recognize diacylglycerol antigens from pathogenic bacteria.

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Division of Developmental Immunology, La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


Natural killer T (NKT) cells recognize glycosphingolipids presented by CD1d molecules and have been linked to defense against microbial infections. Previously defined foreign glycosphingolipids recognized by NKT cells are uniquely found in nonpathogenic sphingomonas bacteria. Here we show that mouse and human NKT cells also recognized glycolipids, specifically a diacylglycerol, from Borrelia burgdorferi, which causes Lyme disease. The B. burgdorferi-derived, glycolipid-induced NKT cell proliferation and cytokine production and the antigenic potency of this glycolipid was dependent on acyl chain length and saturation. These data indicate that NKT cells recognize categories of glycolipids beyond those in sphingomonas and suggest that NKT cell responses driven by T cell receptor-mediated glycolipid recognition may provide protection against diverse pathogens.

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