Selection by two powerful antigens may account for the presence of the major population of human peripheral γ/δ T cells

Gennaro De Libero, Giulia Casorati, Claudia Giachino, Caterina Carbonara, Nicola Migone, Polly Matzinger, Antonio Lanzavecchia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vγ9/Vδ2 cells represent a fraction of human γ/δ cells that is expanded after birth in the periphery, carries markers of activated cells, and becomes a major population in peripheral blood. We found that these cells do not comprise a single population but actually represent two nested sets, the smaller of which, specific for Mycobacterium tuberculosis-pulsed antigen-presenting cells (APC), is contained in a larger set specific for an antigen found on the Molt-4 lymphoma. The larger set, representing 40-80% of all blood γ/δ cells, is comprised of cells bearing the Vγ9/Cγ1 chain. Cells in the smaller, included set have an additional requirement for Vδ2 (and probably for certain permissive junctional regions, since a very small percentage of Vγ9/Vδ2 cells do not react against mycobacteria-pulsed APC). Optimal stimulation by mycobacteria is dependent on the presence of APC, and is not restricted by classical major histocompatibility complex molecules. Some of the Vγ9/Vδ2 mycobacteria-specific clones are also stimulated by APC pulsed with different bacteria, such as Listeria monocytogenes and Escherichia coli, indicating that the population includes several different patterns of reactivity. These data establish a relationship in humans between specificity and Vγ/Vδ gene usage, and offer an explanation for the peripheral expansion of these γ/δ cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1311-1322
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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