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.
Bibliographical noteFunding 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).
- Invariant natural killer T cell
- Mucosal-associated invariant T cell