Biology of mouse mucosal-associated invariant T cells

Abstract : Mucosal-associated invariant T cells (MAIT) are innate lymphocytes that express a semi-invariant T cell receptor (iTCR) and are restricted by the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) related molecule, MR1. In human, MAIT cells are abundant in the blood (1-10%), gut (3-5%), and liver (20-40%). They react against microbial-derived riboflavin metabolites that are common in bacteria and yeast. Due to the paucity of MAIT cells in classical inbred laboratory mice, studies on mouse MAIT cells were mostly performed in TCR-transgenic (Tg) mice. However, these Tg MAIT cells do not adequately recapitulate the phenotype of human MAIT cells. Herein, we present a recently generated congenic mouse strain harboring MAIT cells that closely resemble human MAIT cells and use this tool to study the characteristics of natural mouse MAIT cell. An analysis of wild-derived inbred mouse strains revealed that CAST/Ei strain has increased frequency of MAIT cells than C57BL/6 mice. This was linked to a locus on the TCRα region. Introduction of such locus into C57BL/6 mice generated a “MAIT” congenic strain, which were further crossed to Rorc(γt)-GfpTG reporter strain based on previous findings of RORγt expression on human MAIT cells. Using this tool, we show that natural mouse MAIT cells are CD4−CD8−/lo, display an effector memory phenotype (CD44+), and coexpress the transcription factors PLZF and RORγt. They exhibit tissue-homing properties (CCR6+CCR7−) and preferentially reside in peripheral non-lymphoid tissues, including lung, liver, and skin. Upon TCR ligation, MAIT cells produce TH1/2/17 type cytokines and react to bacterial-derived antigens (i.e. semi-purified bacterial fraction or 5-OP-RU) in an MR1-dependent manner. They have high expression of cytokine receptors (IL-7R, IL-18Rα, IL-12Rβ) and may respond to the corresponding innate cytokines. During experimental urinary tract infection, MAIT cells migrate to the bladder and display a protective anti-bacterial activity. Altogether, our results demonstrate that mouse MAIT cells resemble their human counterparts more closely than previously recognized and therefore this new mouse model will be a powerful tool for advancing our understanding of MAIT cell biology in health and disease.
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Yue Cui. Biology of mouse mucosal-associated invariant T cells. Immunology. Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, 2015. English. ⟨NNT : 2015USPCB015⟩. ⟨tel-01356272⟩

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