Mucosal-associated invariant T Cell effector function is an intrinsic cell property that can be augmented by the Metabolic Cofactor α-Ketoglutarate

Lauren J. Howson, Jasmine Li, Anouk von Borstel, Adele A. Barugahare, Jeffrey Y W Mak, David P Fairlie, James McCluskey, Stephen J. Turner, Martin S. Davey, Jamie Rossjohn

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells are an innate-like population of unconventional T cells that respond rapidly to microbial metabolite Ags or cytokine stimulation. Because of this reactivity and surface expression of CD45RO+, CD45RA2-, and CD127+, they are described as effector memory cells. Yet, there is heterogeneity in MAIT cell effector response. It is unclear what factors control MAIT cell effector capacity, whether it is fixed or can be modified and if this differs based on whether activation is TCR dependent or independent. To address this, we have taken a systematic approach to examine human MAIT cell effector capacity across healthy individuals in response to ligand and cytokine stimulation. We demonstrate the heterogenous nature of MAIT cell effector capacity and that the ability to produce an effector response is not directly attributable to TCR clonotype or coreceptor expression. Global gene transcription analysis revealed that the MAIT cell effector capacity produced in response to TCR stimulation is associated with increased expression of the epigenetic regulator lysine demethylase 6B (KDM6B). Addition of a KDM6B inhibitor did not alter MAIT cell effector function to Ag or cytokine stimulation. However, addition of the KDM6B cofactor α-ketoglutarate greatly enhanced MAIT cell effector capacity to TCR-dependent stimulation in a partially KDM6B-dependent manner. These results demonstrate that the TCR-dependent effector response of MAIT cells is epigenetically regulated and dependent on the availability of metabolic cofactors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1425-1435
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021

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