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Human mucosal associated invariant T (MAIT) CD8(+) and Tc17 cells are important tissue-homing cell populations, characterized by high expression of CD161 ((++)) and type-17 differentiation, but their origins and relationships remain poorly defined. By transcriptional and functional analyses, we demonstrate that a pool of polyclonal, precommitted type-17 CD161(++)CD8αβ(+) T cells exist in cord blood, from which a prominent MAIT cell (TCR Vα7.2(+)) population emerges post-natally. During this expansion, CD8αα T cells appear exclusively within a CD161(++)CD8(+)/MAIT subset, sharing cytokine production, chemokine-receptor expression, TCR-usage, and transcriptional profiles with their CD161(++)CD8αβ(+) counterparts. Our data demonstrate the origin and differentiation pathway of MAIT-cells from a naive type-17 precommitted CD161(++)CD8(+) T-cell pool and the distinct phenotype and function of CD8αα cells in man.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





422 - 433


Peter Medawar Building for Pathogen Research, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, United Kingdom.


T-Lymphocyte Subsets, CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Fetal Blood, Humans, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, Protein Isoforms, RNA, Messenger, Cytokines, Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Blotting, Western, Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis, Gene Expression Profiling, Cell Differentiation, Antigen Presentation, Immunity, Mucosal, Adult, Infant, Newborn, Th17 Cells, Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction, Biomarkers, CD8 Antigens