Molecular recognition of microbial lipid-based antigens by T cells

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The immune system has evolved to protect hosts from pathogens. T cells represent a critical component of the immune system by their engagement in host defence mechanisms against microbial infections. Our knowledge of the molecular recognition by T cells of pathogen-derived peptidic antigens that are presented by the major histocompatibility complex glycoproteins is now well established. However, lipids represent an additional, distinct chemical class of molecules that when presented by the family of CD1 antigen-presenting molecules can serve as antigens, and be recognized by specialized subsets of T cells leading to antigen-specific activation. Over the past decades, numerous CD1-presented self- and bacterial lipid-based antigens have been isolated and characterized. However, our understanding at the molecular level of T cell immunity to CD1 molecules presenting microbial lipid-based antigens is still largely unexplored. Here, we review the insights and the molecular basis underpinning the recognition of microbial lipid-based antigens by T cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1623-1639
Number of pages17
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


  • Antigens
  • CD1-mediated immunity
  • Microbial lipids
  • Molecular recognition
  • T cell receptors
  • T cells

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