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Most CD4 and CD8 T cells are restricted by conventional major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules and mount TCR-dependent adaptive immune responses. In contrast, MAIT, iNKT, and certain γδ TCR bearing cells are characterized by their abilities to recognize antigens presented by unconventional antigen-presenting molecules and to mount cytokine-mediated TCR-independent responses in an "innate-like" manner. In addition, several more diverse T-cell subsets have been described that in a similar manner are restricted by unconventional antigen-presenting molecules but mainly depend on their TCRs for activation. Vice versa, innate-like behaviour was reported in defined subpopulations of conventional T cells, particularly in barrier sites, showing that these two features are not necessarily linked. The abilities to recognize antigens presented by unconventional antigen-presenting molecules or to mount TCR-independent responses creates unique niches for these T cells and is linked to wide range of functional capabilities. This is especially exemplified by unconventional and innate-like T cells present at barrier sites where they are involved in pathogen defense, tissue homeostasis as well as in pathologic processes.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Exp Immunol

Publication Date





1 - 9


T MIC , MAIT cell, NKT, innate-like, unconventional