MHC class II-expressing thymocytes suppress invariant NKT cell development

Wei Li, M. Hanief Sofi, Datsen G. Wei, Wenjun Du, Jacquelyn Gervay-Hague, Gourapura J. Renukaradhya, Randy R. Brutkiewicz, Cheong Hee Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Natural killer T (NKT) cells are positively selected on cortical thymocytes expressing the non-classical major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I CD1d molecules. However, it is less clear how NKT cells are negatively selected in the thymus. In this study, we investigated the role of MHC class II expression in NKT cell development. Transgenic mice expressing MHC class II on thymocytes and peripheral T cells had a marked reduction in invariant NKT (iNKT) cells. Reduced numbers of iNKT cells correlated with the absence of in vivo production of cytokines in response to the iNKT cell agonist α-galactosylceramide. Using mixed bone marrow chimeras, we found that MHC class II-expressing thymocytes suppressed the development of iNKT cells in trans in a CD4-dependent manner. Our observations have significant implications for human iNKT cell development as human thymocytes express MHC class II, which can lead to an inefficient selection of iNKT cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-189
Number of pages4
JournalImmunology and Cell Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • CD1d
  • MHC class II
  • Thymocyte development
  • Transgenic mice
  • iNKT cells


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