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PLoS One. 2011 May 10;6(5):e19890. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0019890.

The Ras/MAPK pathway is required for generation of iNKT cells.

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Immunobiology and Cancer Research Program, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States of America.


iNKT cells derive from CD4(+)CD8(+) DP thymocytes, and are selected by thymocyte-thymocyte interactions through signals from their invariant Vα14-Jα18 TCR and from the costimulatory molecules SLAMF1 and SLAMF6. Genetic studies have demonstrated the contribution of different signaling pathways to this process. Surprisingly, current models imply that the Ras/MAPK pathway, one of the critical mediators of conventional αβ T cell positive selection, is not necessary for iNKT cell development. Using mice defective at different levels of this pathway our results refute this paradigm, and demonstrate that Ras, and its downstream effectors Egr-1 and Egr-2 are required for positive selection of iNKT cells. Interestingly our results also show that there are differences in the contributions of several of these molecules to the development of iNKT and conventional αβ T cells.

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