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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Cell Mol Life Sci 2014 Dec;71(24):4831-40

MAIT cells and pathogen defense.

Cowley SC


Mucosa-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells are a unique population of innate T cells that are abundant in humans. These cells possess an evolutionarily conserved invariant T cell receptor alpha chain restricted by the nonpolymorphic class Ib major histocompatibility (MHC) molecule, MHC class I-related protein (MR1). The recent discovery that MAIT cells are activated by MR1-bound riboflavin metabolite derivatives distinguishes MAIT cells from all other alphabeta T cells in the immune system. Since mammals lack the capacity to synthesize riboflavin, intermediates from the riboflavin biosynthetic pathway are distinct microbial molecular patterns that provide a unique signal to the immune system. Multiple lines of evidence suggest that MAIT cells, which produce important cytokines such as IFN-gamma, TNF, and IL-17A, have the potential to influence immune responses to a broad range of pathogens. Here we will discuss our current understanding of MAIT cell biology and their role in pathogen defense.

Category: Journal Article, Review
PubMed ID: #25164578 DOI: 10.1007/s00018-014-1708-y
Includes FDA Authors from Scientific Area(s): Biologics
Entry Created: 2014-08-29 Entry Last Modified: 2014-12-21