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Nat Genet. 2008 May;40(5):656-62. doi: 10.1038/ng.108. Epub 2008 Apr 13.

Skint1, the prototype of a newly identified immunoglobulin superfamily gene cluster, positively selects epidermal gammadelta T cells.

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Department of Genetics, Yale University School of Medicine, 333 Cedar St., SHM I-308, New Haven, Connecticut 06510, USA.


B cells, alphabeta T cells and gammadelta T cells are conserved lymphocyte subtypes encoding their antigen receptors from somatically rearranged genes. alphabeta T cells undergo positive selection in the thymus by engagement of their T cell receptors (TCRs) with self-peptides presented by major histocompatibility complex molecules. The molecules that select gammadelta T cells are unknown. Vgamma5+Vdelta1+ cells comprise 90% of mouse epidermal gammadelta T cells. By mapping and genetic complementation using a strain showing loss of Vgamma5+Vdelta1+ cells due to a failure of thymic selection, we show that this defect is caused by mutation in Skint1, a newly identified gene expressed in thymus and skin that encodes a protein with immunoglobulin-like and transmembrane domains. Skint1 is the prototypic member of a rapidly evolving family of at least 11 genes in mouse, with greatest similarity to the butyrophilin genes. These findings define a new family of proteins mediating key epithelial-immune interactions.

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