Natural killer T (NKT) cells constitute a highly conserved T lymphocyte subpopulation that has the potential to regulate many types of immune responses through the rapid secretion of cytokines1,2. NKT cells recognize glycolipids presented by CD1d, a class I-like antigen-presenting molecule. They have an invariant T-cell antigen receptor (TCR) α-chain, but whether this invariant TCR recognizes microbial antigens is still controversial. Here we show that most mouse and human NKT cells recognize glycosphingolipids from Sphingomonas, Gram-negative bacteria that do not contain lipopolysaccharide3,4,5. NKT cells are activated in vivo after exposure to these bacterial antigens or bacteria, and mice that lack NKT cells have a marked defect in the clearance of Sphingomonas from the liver. These data suggest that NKT cells are T lymphocytes that provide an innate-type immune response to certain microorganisms through recognition by their antigen receptor, and that they might be useful in providing protection from bacteria that cannot be detected by pattern recognition receptors such as Toll-like receptor 4.
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We thank K. J. L. Hammond for critical reading of the manuscript, and S. Sidobre, L. Sidobre, K. J. L. Hammond and A. Khurana for mCD1d protein. This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (to M.K., to C-H.W. and to M.T.). Y.K. was supported in part by the Yamada Science Foundation.
The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.
This figure shows in vivo activation of V□14i NKT cells after injection of DCs pulsed with GSL-1'sA or S. yanoikuyae. (PDF 39 kb)
This figure shows GSL-1'sA does not cause TNF-α production by DCs. (PDF 28 kb)
This figure shows TLR4 independent activation of Vα14i NKT cells. (PDF 30 kb)
This figure shows TLR independent IFN-γ production by Vα14i NKT cells. (PDF 42 kb)
This figure shows IL-12 independent IFN-γ production by Vα14i NKT cells. (PDF 47 kb)
This figure shows IL-12 independent IL-4 production by Vα14i NKT cells. (PDF 35 kb)
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Kinjo, Y., Wu, D., Kim, G. et al. Recognition of bacterial glycosphingolipids by natural killer T cells. Nature 434, 520–525 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature03407
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