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J Immunol. 2014 Mar 15;192(6):2756-69. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1302567. Epub 2014 Feb 14.

Specific recognition of mycobacterial protein and peptide antigens by γδ T cell subsets following infection with virulent Mycobacterium bovis.

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Ruminant Diseases and Immunology Research Unit, National Animal Disease Center, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Ames, IA 50010;


Promoting effective immunity to Mycobacterium bovis infection is a challenge that is of interest to the fields of human and animal medicine alike. We report that γδ T cells from virulent M. bovis-infected cattle respond specifically and directly to complex, protein, and nonprotein mycobacterial Ags. Importantly, to our knowledge, we demonstrate for the first time that bovine γδ T cells specifically recognize peptide Ags derived from the mycobacterial protein complex ESAT6:CFP10 and that this recognition requires direct contact with APCs and signaling through the T cell Ag receptor but is independent of MHC class I or II. Furthermore, we show that M. bovis infection in cattle induces robust IL-17A protein responses. Interestingly, in contrast to results from mice, bovine CD4 T cells, and not γδ T cells, are the predominant source of this critical proinflammatory mediator. Bovine γδ T cells are divided into subsets based upon their expression of Workshop Cluster 1 (WC1), and we demonstrate that the M. bovis-specific γδ T cell response is composed of a heterogeneous mix of WC1-expressing populations, with the serologically defined WC1.1(+) and WC1.2(+) subsets responding in vitro to mycobacterial Ags and accumulating in the lesions of M. bovis-infected animals. The results described in this article enhance our understanding of γδ T cell biology and, because virulent M. bovis infection of cattle represents an excellent model of tuberculosis in humans, contribute to our overall understanding of the role of γδ T cells in the mycobacterial-specific immune response.

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