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Eur J Immunol. 1998 Jun;28(6):1798-806.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis exploits the CD95/CD95 ligand system of gammadelta T cells to cause apoptosis.

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Laboratory of Tumor Immunology, Scientific Institute HS. Raffaele, Milan, Italy.


Vgamma9/Vdelta2+ T cells specifically recognize Mycobacterium tuberculosis in vitro and are precociously recruited in early mycobacterial lesions. Even if gammadelta T cells are only fortuitously detected in granulomas or bronchoalveolar lavages of patients with active pulmonary tuberculosis, a role in shaping the mature alphabeta T cell response against M. tuberculosis is substantiated. Here we provide a molecular explanation for this paradox: the engagement of the gammadelta TCR by mycobacterial antigens induced the expression of CD95 ligand (CD95L) by chronically activated CD95+/CD95L- gammadelta T lymphocytes. The receptor was functional, as CD95/CD95L interaction triggered the bystander death of CD95+ cells by apoptosis. Cell death was abolished by CD95-blocking antibodies. The transient accumulation at the site of infection of CD95L+ gammadelta lymphocytes, capable of interacting with CD95+ leukocytes attracted by the response towards the pathogen, may determine the characteristics of the ensuing granulomatous disease.

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