Targeted Expression of Human CD1d in Transgenic Mice Reveals Independent Roles for Thymocytes and Thymic APCs in Positive and Negative Selection of Vα14i NKT Cells
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CD1d-dependent invariant Valpha14 (Valpha14i) NKT cells are innate T lymphocytes expressing a conserved semi-invariant TCR, consisting, in mice, of the invariant Valpha14-Jalpha18 TCR alpha-chain paired mostly with Vbeta8.2 and Vbeta7. The cellular requirements for thymic positive and negative selection of Valpha14i NKT cells are only partially understood. Therefore, we generated transgenic mice expressing human CD1d (hCD1d) either on thymocytes, mainly CD4+ CD8+ double positive, or on APCs, the cells implicated in the selection of Valpha14i NKT cells. In the absence of the endogenous mouse CD1d (mCD1d), the expression of hCD1d on thymocytes, but not on APCs, was sufficient to select Valpha14i NKT cells that proved functional when activated ex vivo with the Ag alpha-galactosyl ceramide. Valpha14i NKT cells selected by hCD1d on thymocytes, however, attained lower numbers than in control mice and expressed essentially Vbeta8.2. The low number of Vbeta8.2+ Valpha14i NKT cells selected by hCD1d on thymocytes was not reversed by the concomitant expression of mCD1d, which, instead, restored the development of Vbeta7+ Valpha14i NKT cells. Vbeta8.2+, but not Vbeta7+, NKT cell development was impaired in mice expressing both hCD1d on APCs and mCD1d. Taken together, our data reveal that selective CD1d expression by thymocytes is sufficient for positive selection of functional Valpha14i NKT cells and that both thymocytes and APCs may independently mediate negative selection.
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