Preferential recognition of a microbial metabolite by human Vγ2Vδ2 T cells

Kia Joo Puan, Chenggang Jin, Hong Wang, Ghanashyam Sarikonda, Amy M. Raker, Hoi K. Lee, Megan I. Samuelson, Elisabeth Märker-Hermann, Ljiljana Pasa-Tolic, Edward Nieves, José Luis Giner, Tomohisa Kuzuyama, Craig T. Morita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Human Vγ2Vδ2 T cells are stimulated by prenyl pyrophosphates, such as isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP), and play important roles in mediating immunity against microbial pathogens and have potent anti-tumor activity. (E)-4-hydroxy-3-methyl-but-2-enyl pyrophosphate (HMBPP) has been identified as a metabolite in the 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol-4 phosphate (MEP) pathway for isoprenoid biosynthesis that is used by many bacteria and protozoan parasites. We find that HMBPP is the major Vγ2Vδ2 T-cell antigen for many bacteria, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Yersinia enterocolitica and Escherichia coli. HMBPP was a 30 000-fold more potent antigen than IPP. Using mutant bacteria, we show that bacterial antigen levels for Vγ2Vδ2 T cells are controlled by MEP pathway enzymes and find no evidence for the production of 3-formyl-1-butyl pyrophosphate. Moreover, HMBPP reactivity required only germ line-encoded Vγ2Vδ2 TCR elements and is present at birth. Importantly, we show that bacterial HMBPP levels correlated with their ability to expand Vγ2Vδ2 T cells in vivo upon engraftment into severe combined immunodeficiency-beige mice. Thus, the production of HMBPP by a microbial-specific isoprenoid pathway plays a major role in determining whether bacteria will stimulate Vγ2Vδ2 T cells in vivo. This preferential stimulation by a common microbial isoprenoid metabolite allows Vγ2Vδ2 T cells to respond to a broad array of pathogens using this pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)657-673
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Immunology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2007


  • 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol-4 phosphate pathway
  • Microbial immunity
  • Prenyl pyrophosphate antigens
  • γδ T cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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