Reports

Activation of gamma delta T cells in the primary immune response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Science  12 May 1989:
Vol. 244, Issue 4905, pp. 713-716
DOI: 10.1126/science.2524098

Abstract

Although the immunologic role of T cells bearing the conventional alpha beta T cell receptor (TCR) has been well characterized, little is known about the function of the population of T cells bearing the gamma delta TCR. Therefore, the role of gamma delta T cells in the immune response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MT) was investigated. The number of TCR gamma delta cells in the draining lymph nodes of mice immunized with MT was greatly increased in comparison with the number of TCR alpha beta cells. Three biochemically distinct gamma delta TCRs were detected. Analyses of cell cycle, of interleukin-2 receptor expression, and of interleukin-2 responsiveness showed that a large proportion of the gamma delta T cells were activated in vivo. TCR gamma delta cells responded to solubilized MT antigens in vitro but, in contrast to MT-specific alpha beta T cells, the response of gamma delta T cells to MT did not require major histocompatability complex class II recognition. These results provide an example of antigen-specific activation of gamma delta T cells in vivo and indicate that gamma delta T cells may have a distinct role in generating a primary immune response to certain microorganisms.

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