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Eur J Immunol. 2012 Jan;42(1):228-40. doi: 10.1002/eji.201141870. Epub 2011 Dec 2.

The gene expression profile of phosphoantigen-specific human γδ T lymphocytes is a blend of αβ T-cell and NK-cell signatures.

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INSERM UMR1037, Cancer Research Center of Toulouse, Toulouse, France.


Global transcriptional technologies have revolutionised the study of lymphoid cell populations, but human γδ T lymphocytes specific for phosphoantigens remain far less deeply characterised by these methods despite the great therapeutic potential of these cells. Here we analyse the transcriptome of circulating TCRVγ(+) γδ T cells isolated from healthy individuals, and their relation with those from other lymphoid cell subsets. We report that the gene signature of phosphoantigen-specific TCRVγ(+) γδ T cells is a hybrid of those from αβ T and NK cells, with more 'NK-cell' genes than αβ T cells have and more 'T-cell' genes than NK cells. The expression profile of TCRVγ(+) γδ T cells stimulated with phosphoantigen recapitulates their immediate physiological functions: Th1 cytokine, chemokine and cytotoxic activities reflect their high mitotic activity at later time points and do not indicate antigen-presenting functions. Finally, such hallmarks make the transcriptome of γδ T cells, whether resting or clonally expanding, clearly distinctive from that of NK/T or peripheral T-cell lymphomas of the γδ subtype.

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