Genetic control of murine invariant natural killer T-cell development dynamically differs dependent on the examined tissue type.

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Publication Date



Animals, Genome-Wide Association Study, Lymphopoiesis, Mice, Natural Killer T-Cells, Spleen, Thymus Gland

JAX Source

Genes Immun 2012 Feb; 13(2):164-74.




Previous studies using gene-targeted mutant mice revealed several molecules important for the development or function of invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells. However, these gene knockout mice represent cases that are rare in humans. Thus, it remains unclear how naturally occurring allelic variants of these genes or others regulate the numerical and functional diversity of iNKT cells in both mice and humans. Studies in humans are mostly limited to iNKT cells in peripheral blood (PB). It is not known if the relative distribution of iNKT cells between PB and other lymphoid organs is correlated or under common genetic control. To initially address these questions, we analyzed iNKT cells in the spleen, thymus and PB of 38 inbred mouse strains. Percentages of iNKT cells in these three anatomical sites varied significantly in a strain-dependent manner. The correlation between PB and spleen was moderate, and none was observed between PB and thymus. Similarly, proportions of the CD4-expressing subset of iNKT cells differed significantly among inbred strains. The percentages of CD4-positive iNKT cells displayed a strong correlation between PB and spleen, although it remained poor between PB and thymus. Genome-wide association studies across strains identified only partially overlapping loci associated with variability of iNKT cell frequencies within and between differing anatomical sites.

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