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Fig.1 Structure of human CD1d
with a-GalCer. (Koch M, 2005) CD1 molecules are nonpolymorphic transmembrane proteins, which associate with b2-microglobulin (b2m) forming two anti-parallel a-helices, overlying a membrane-distal b-pleated sheet. Human CD1 family comprises five members, which are CD1a, -b, -c, and -e molecules, and the CD1d molecule.
CD1d is widely expressed by thymocytes, B cells, monocytes, macro- phages, dendritic cells and epithelia. CD1d molecules can bind series of self lipids and microbial lipid such as glycosphingolipids and phospholipids with high affinity. The binding can specifically activate the main population of CD1d restricted T cells called NKT cells.
Natural killer T (NKT) cells include a family of specialized T cells which can identify lipid antigens presented by CD1d. On account of the antigen specificities, CD1d-restricted NKT cells have been classified into two main types. By using a canonical invariant TCR α-chain, type I NKT cells can recognize α-galactosylceramide (α-GalCer). While type II NKT cells, with a more diverse αβ TCR repertoire, are unavailable to recognize α-GalCer.
Fig.2 Modes of antigen recognition for CD1d-restricted T cell receptors. (Fernandez E M, 2015)
Under activation with a-GalCer, NKT cells will release a great quantity of both T helper type 1 and T helper type 2 cytokines, leading to an increased or suppressed immune responses.
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