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Curr Opin Immunol. 2008 Jun;20(3):358-68. doi: 10.1016/j.coi.2008.03.018. Epub 2008 May 22.

CD1d-restricted iNKT cells, the 'Swiss-Army knife' of the immune system.

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Integrated Department of Immunology, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, National Jewish Medical and Research Center, Denver, CO 80206, USA.


Natural Killer T cells are a distinct lymphocyte lineage that regulates a broad range of immune responses. NKT cells recognize glycolipids presented by the non-classical MHC molecule CD1d. Structural insight into the TCR/glycolipid/CD1d tri-complex has revealed an unusual and unexpected mode of recognition. Recent studies have also identified some of the signaling events during NKT cell development that give NKT cells their innate phenotype. Pathogen-derived glycolipid antigens continue to be found, and new mechanisms of NKT cell activation have been described. Finally, NKT cells have been shown to be remarkably versatile in function during various immune responses. Whether these extensive functional capacities can be attributed to a single population sensitive to environmental cues or if functionally distinct NKT cell subpopulations exist remains unresolved.

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