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Natural Killer T-Cells (NKT-Cells) – Lymphocyte Development

by Peter Delves, PhD
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    There is a group of cells that share characteristics of T-cells, which are cells of the adaptive response, but also natural killer cells which are cells of the innate response. And I think this highlights a very important aspect of the immune system, is that we try and force things into little boxes, we try and put a label on something saying, ‘This is a T-cell. This is an NK cell’, and so on. But actually it’s all a kind of continuum really, and there are things that don’t fit neatly into the little divisions that we would like to put them in. And that’s true I think of all of biology. These NKT-cells are a distinct subset of alpha beta (αβ) T-cells, and they branch from conventional T-cells at the double positive stage of thymocyte development. A thymocyte by the way is simply a young T-cell that’s developing within the thymus. The NKT-cells express markers, in other words cell surface molecules that we can use for identification of different cell types. These markers are associated with both T-cells, for example they have a TCR - T-cell receptor which is very characteristic of a T-cell. But they also have molecules on their surface that are characteristic of natural killer cells, for example C-lectin-type receptor NK1.1. Interestingly, the T-cell receptor of NKT-cells is mostly composed of what is referred to as a semi-invariant T-cell receptor. In other words, the T-cell receptor doesn’t vary nearly as much as it does on a conventional T-cell. They tend not to recognize peptide plus MHC, like the conventional T-cells, instead they recognize glycolipids presented by the nonpolymorphic MHC class I-like molecule, CD1d. So a little bit like the gamma delta (γδ) T-cells that we just referred to. And when activated, they secrete cytokines including gamma...

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Natural Killer T-Cells (NKT-Cells) – Lymphocyte Development by Peter Delves, PhD is from the course Adaptive Immune System.


    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Semi-invariant
    2. A γδ TCR
    3. Mostly capable of recognizing peptide-MHC
    4. Mostly capable of recognizing glycolipids presented by MHC
    5. An unconventional αγ TCR
    1. Has more variation on it's receptor than other T cells
    2. Express TCR and NK1.1
    3. Are a subset of alpha/beta T cells
    4. Recognize glycolipids presented by CD1d
    5. Secrete IL-4 when activated

    Author of lecture Natural Killer T-Cells (NKT-Cells) – Lymphocyte Development

     Peter Delves, PhD

    Peter Delves, PhD


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