Murine gamma delta T cells can be divided into subsets based on the TCR gamma-chains they express. Most of these subsets have variable TCR junctions, but two, both associated with epithelia, express invariant TCRs. The absence of receptor variability in these cells implies uniformity of their ligands. This was previously taken as evidence to suggest that gamma delta T cells recognize host-derived, stress-induced ligands. We now demonstrate, for the first time, the response of a gamma delta TCR invariant subset during bacterial infection, a potential cause of stress. After infection with Listeria monocytogenes, absolute numbers of all T cells in the liver, including alpha beta and gamma delta T cell subsets, increased markedly. However, responses of a gamma delta T cell subset varied. We noted a decrease in the relative frequency of V delta 6.3+ cells, which are, for the most part, included in the V gamma 1+ subset. In contrast, cells bearing the invariant V gamma 6/V delta 1 TCR increased substantially in proportion to other gamma delta T cells, as determined by PCR analysis of liver T cell RNA and by comparing liver gamma delta T cell hybridomas made from normal mice to those from mice infected with Listeria. V gamma 6/V delta 1+ cells have been previously reported as a TCR invariant intraepithelial subset in the female reproductive tract and tongue. We show here that V gamma 6/V delta 1+ cells reactive in Listeria-infected liver are polyclonally derived, but still bear TCR chains with invariant junctional sequences, identical with those of the female reproductive tract. Although the Ag that stimulates these cells is unknown, our results indicate that only diverse, but also invariant, gamma delta T cell subsets can become involved in the host response to a bacterial infection.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.