Group 1 CD1 (CD1a, CD1b, and CD1c)-restricted T cells recognize mycobacterial lipid antigens and are found at higher frequencies in Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb)-infected individuals. However, their role and dynamics during infection remain unknown because of the lack of a suitable small animal model. We have generated human group 1 CD1 transgenic (hCD1Tg) mice that express all three human group 1 CD1 isoforms and support the development of group 1 CD1-restricted T cells with diverse T cell receptor usage. Both mycobacterial infection and immunization with Mtb lipids elicit group 1 CD1-restricted Mtb lipid-specific T cell responses in hCD1Tg mice. In contrast to CD1d-restricted NKT cells, which rapidly respond to initial stimulation but exhibit anergy upon reexposure, group 1 CD1-restricted T cells exhibit delayed primary responses and more rapid secondary responses, similar to conventional T cells. Collectively, our data demonstrate that group 1 CD1-restricted T cells participate in adaptive immune responses upon mycobacterial infection and could serve as targets for the development of novel Mtb vaccines.
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