How lipid-specific T cells become effectors: The differentiation of iNKT subsets

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In contrast to peptide-recognizing T cells, invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells express a semi-invariant T cell receptor that specifically recognizes self- or foreign-lipids presented by CD1d molecules. There are three major functionally distinct effector states for iNKT cells. Owning to these innate-like effector states, iNKT cells have been implicated in early protective immunity against pathogens. Yet, growing evidence suggests that iNKT cells play a role in tissue homeostasis as well. In this review, we discuss current knowledge about the underlying mechanisms that regulate the effector states of iNKT subsets, with a highlight on the roles of a variety of transcription factors and describe how each subset influences different facets of thymus homeostasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1450
JournalFrontiers in immunology
Issue numberJUN
StatePublished - Jun 26 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Dr. Hristo Georgiev for reading the manuscript, and all present and past members of the Hogquist and Jameson labs for productive discussions and assistance. This work was supported by NIH grant R37 AI39560 (KH) and UMN doctoral dissertation fellowship (HW).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Wang and Hogquist.


  • Development
  • Invariant natural killer T cell
  • Lipid
  • Mucosal-associated invariant T cell
  • Subsets
  • Thymus


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