Natural killer T cells recognize diacylglycerol antigens from pathogenic bacteria

Yuki Kinjo, Emmanuel Tupin, Douglass Wu, Masakazu Fujio, Raquel Garcia-Navarro, Mohammed Rafii El Idrissi Benhnia, Dirk M. Zajonc, Gil Ben-Menachem, Gary D. Ainge, Gavin F. Painter, Archana Khurana, Kasper Hoebe, Samuel M. Behar, Bruce Beutler, Ian A. Wilson, Moriya Tsuji, Timothy J. Sellati, Chi Huey Wong, Mitchell Kronenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

539 Scopus citations


Natural killer T (NKT) cells recognize glycosphingolipids presented by CD1d molecules and have been linked to defense against microbial infections. Previously defined foreign glycosphingolipids recognized by NKT cells are uniquely found in nonpathogenic sphingomonas bacteria. Here we show that mouse and human NKT cells also recognized glycolipids, specifically a diacylglycerol, from Borrelia burgdorferi, which causes Lyme disease. The B. burgdorferi-derived, glycolipid-induced NKT cell proliferation and cytokine production and the antigenic potency of this glycolipid was dependent on acyl chain length and saturation. These data indicate that NKT cells recognize categories of glycolipids beyond those in sphingomonas and suggest that NKT cell responses driven by T cell receptor-mediated glycolipid recognition may provide protection against diverse pathogens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)978-986
Number of pages9
JournalNature immunology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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