Functional heterogeneity and antimycobacterial effects of mouse mucosal-associated invariant T cells specific for riboflavin metabolites

Isaac G Sakala, Lars Kjer-Nielsen, Christopher S Eickhoff, Xiaoli Wang, Azra Blazevic, Ligong Liu, David P Fairlie, Jamie Rossjohn, James McCluskey, Daved H Fremont, Ted H Hansen, Daniel F Hoft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

101 Citations (Scopus)


Mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells have a semi-invariant TCR Valpha-chain, and their optimal development is dependent upon commensal flora and expression of the nonpolymorphic MHC class I-like molecule MR1. MAIT cells are activated in an MR1-restricted manner by diverse strains of bacteria and yeast, suggesting a widely shared Ag. Recently, human and mouse MR1 were found to bind bacterial riboflavin metabolites (ribityllumazine [RL] Ags) capable of activating MAIT cells. In this study, we used MR1/RL tetramers to study MR1 dependency, subset heterogeneity, and protective effector functions important for tuberculosis immunity. Although tetramer(+) cells were detected in both MR1(+/+) and MR1(-/-) TCR Valpha19i-transgenic (Tg) mice, MR1 expression resulted in significantly increased tetramer(+) cells coexpressing TCR Vbeta6/8, NK1.1, CD44, and CD69 that displayed more robust in vitro responses to IL-12 plus IL-18 and RL Ag, indicating that MR1 is necessary for the optimal development of the classic murine MAIT cell memory/effector subset. In addition, tetramer(+) MAIT cells expressing CD4, CD8, or neither developing in MR1(+/+) Valpha19i-Tg mice had disparate cytokine profiles in response to RL Ag. Therefore, murine MAIT cells are considerably more heterogeneous than previously thought. Most notably, after mycobacterial pulmonary infection, heterogeneous subsets of tetramer(+) Valpha19i-Tg MAIT cells expressing CXCR3 and alpha4beta1 were recruited into the lungs and afforded early protection. In addition, Valpha19iCalpha(-/-)MR(+/+) mice were significantly better protected than were Valpha19iCalpha(-/-)MR1(-/-), wild-type, and MR1(-/-) non-Tg mice. Overall, we demonstrate considerable functional diversity of MAIT cell responses, as well as that MR1-restricted MAIT cells are important for tuberculosis protective immunity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)587 - 601
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Cite this