Crystal structure of Vδ1 T cell receptor in complex with CD1d-sulfatide shows MHC-like recognition of a self-lipid by human γδ T cells.
Gammadelta T cells are present in the mucosal intestinal epithelia and secrete factors necessary to maintain tissue integrity. Ags recognized by these cells are poorly defined, although in mice non-classical MHC class I molecules have been implicated. Since MHC class I-like CD1 receptors are widely expressed at the surface of epithelial and dendritic intestinal cells and have the capacity to present lipid Ags to T cells, we hypothesized that these molecules might present autologous and/or exogenous phospholipids to intestinal gammadelta T lymphocytes. Intraepithelial T lymphocytes from normal human duodenal mucosal biopsies were cloned and exposed to natural and synthetic phospholipids using CD1a-, CD1b-, CD1c- or CD1d-transfected C1R lymphoblastoid or HeLa cell lines as APCs. Their cytolytic properties and regulatory cytokine secretion were also examined. Most clones obtained from duodenal mucosa (up to 70%) were TCRalphabeta+, and either CD4+ or CD8+, whereas 20% were CD4-CD8- (6 clones) or TCRgammadelta+ (12 clones). A relevant percentage (up to 66%) of TCRgammadelta+ but few (<5%) TCRalphabeta+ T cell clones responded to synthetic and/or natural phospholipids presented by CD1 molecules, as measured by both [(3)H]thymidine incorporation and IL-4 release assays. A Th1-like cytolytic and functional activity along with the ability to secrete regulatory cytokines was observed in most phospholipid-specific gammadelta T cell clones. Thus, a substantial percentage of TCRgammadelta+ but few TCRalphabeta+ from human duodenal mucosa recognize exogenous phospholipids in a CD1-restricted fashion. This adaptive response could contribute to mucosal homeostasis, but could also favor the emergence of inflammatory or allergic intestinal diseases.