Send to

Choose Destination
Nat Immunol. 2015 Nov;16(11):1114-23. doi: 10.1038/ni.3298.

The burgeoning family of unconventional T cells.

Author information

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia.
Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Advanced Molecular Imaging, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia.
Infection and Immunity Program and The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash University, Clayton, Australia.
Institute of Infection and Immunity, Cardiff University School of Medicine, Heath Park, Cardiff, UK.
Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Advanced Molecular Imaging, Monash University, Clayton, Australia.
Division of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


While most studies of T lymphocytes have focused on T cells reactive to complexes of peptide and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) proteins, many other types of T cells do not fit this paradigm. These include CD1-restricted T cells, MR1-restricted mucosal associated invariant T cells (MAIT cells), MHC class Ib-reactive T cells, and γδ T cells. Collectively, these T cells are considered 'unconventional', in part because they can recognize lipids, small-molecule metabolites and specially modified peptides. Unlike MHC-reactive T cells, these apparently disparate T cell types generally show simplified patterns of T cell antigen receptor (TCR) expression, rapid effector responses and 'public' antigen specificities. Here we review evidence showing that unconventional T cells are an abundant component of the human immune system and discuss the immunotherapeutic potential of these cells and their antigenic targets.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group
Loading ...
Support Center