Targeted disruption of CD1d prevents NKT cell development in pigs


Studies in mice genetically lacking natural killer T (NKT) cells show that these lymphocytes make important contributions to both innate and adaptive immune responses. However, the usefulness of murine models to study human NKT cells is limited by the many differences between mice and humans, including that their NKT cell frequencies, subsets, and distribution are dissimilar. A more suitable model may be swine that share many metabolic, physiological, and growth characteristics with humans and are also similar for NKT cells. Thus, we analyzed genetically modified pigs made deficient for CD1d that is required for the development of Type I invariant NKT (iNKT) cells that express a semi-invariant T-cell receptor (TCR) and Type II NKT cells that use variable TCRs. Peripheral blood analyzed by flow cytometry and interferon-γ enzyme-linked immuno spot assays demonstrated that CD1d-knockout pigs completely lack iNKT cells, while other leukocyte populations remain intact. CD1d and NKT cells have been shown to be involved in shaping the composition of the commensal microbiota in mice. Therefore, we also compared the fecal microbiota profile between pigs expressing and lacking NKT cells. However, no differences were found between pigs lacking or expressing CD1d. Our results are the first to show that knocking-out CD1d prevents the development of NKT cells in a non-rodent species. CD1d-deficient pigs should offer a useful model to more accurately determine the contribution of NKT cells for human immune responses. They also have potential for understanding how NKT cells impact the health of commercial swine.

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This work was supported by the National Swine Resource and Research Center, UF Research Opportunity Seed Fund, and IFAS Early Career Seed Fund awards. The National Institutes of Health Tetramer Core Facility provided the CD1d tetramers. G.Y. is supported by a UF Animal Molecular and Cellular Biology graduate fellowship.

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Correspondence to John P. Driver.

Additional information

Guan Yang and Bianca L. Artiaga contributed equally to this work.

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Yang, G., Artiaga, B.L., Hackmann, T.J. et al. Targeted disruption of CD1d prevents NKT cell development in pigs. Mamm Genome 26, 264–270 (2015).

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  • iNKT Cell
  • Immune Cell Population
  • UniFrac Distance
  • Unweighted UniFrac Distance
  • Fecal Bacterial Community