Human innate Mycobacterium tuberculosis-reactive αβTCR + thymocytes

Marielle C. Gold, Heather D. Ehlinger, Matthew S. Cook, Susan K. Smyk-Pearson, Paul T. Wille, Ross M. Ungerleider, Deborah A. Lewinsohn, David M. Lewinsohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The control of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection is heavily dependent on the adaptive Th1 cellular immune response. Paradoxically, optimal priming of the Th1 response requires activation of priming dendritic cells with Th1 cytokine IFN-γ. At present, the innate cellular mechanisms required for the generation of an optimal Th1 T cell response remain poorly characterized. We hypothesized that innate Mtb-reactive T cells provide an early source of IFN-γ to fully activate Mtb-exposed dendritic cells. Here, we report the identification of a novel population of Mtb-reactive CD4- αβTCR+ innate thymocytes. These cells are present at high frequencies, respond to Mtb-infected cells by producing IFN-γ directly ex vivo, and display characteristics of effector memory T cells. This novel innate population of Mtb-reactive T cells will drive further investigation into the role of these cells in the containment of Mtb following infectious exposure. Furthermore, this is the first demonstration of a human innate pathogen-specific αβTCR+ T cell and is likely to inspire further investigation into innate T cells recognizing other important human pathogens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPLoS pathogens
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Virology


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