Human gamma delta T Cells: A Lymphoid Lineage Cell Capable of Professional Phagocytosis

Y. Wu, W. Wu, W.M. Wong, E. Ward, A.J. Thrasher, D. Goldblatt, M. Osman, P. Digard, D.H. Canaday, K. Gustafsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Professional phagocytosis in mammals is considered to be performed exclusively by myeloid cell types. In this study, we demonstrate, for the first time, that a mammalian lymphocyte subset can operate as a professional phagocyte. By using confocal microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, and functional Ag presentation assays, we find that freshly isolated human peripheral blood gamma delta T cells can phagocytose Escherichia coli and 1 mu m synthetic beads via Ab opsonization and CD16 (Fc gamma RIII), leading to Ag processing and presentation on MHC class II. In contrast, other CD16(+) lymphocytes, i.e., CD16(+)/CD56(+) NK cells, were not capable of such functions. These findings of distinct myeloid characteristics in gamma delta T cells strongly support the suggestion that gamma delta T cells are evolutionarily ancient lymphocytes and have implications for our understanding of their role in transitional immunity and the control of infectious diseases and cancer. The Journal of Immunology, 2009, 183: 5622-5629.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)5622-5629
Number of pages8
JournalThe Journal of Immunology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation/immunology
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Lineage/immunology
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Escherichia coli/immunology
  • HLA-A Antigens/immunology
  • HLA-A Antigens/metabolism
  • HLA-DRB1 Chains
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microspheres
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Opsonin Proteins/metabolism
  • Phagocytosis/immunology
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta/biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta/physiology
  • Receptors, IgG/physiology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets/immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets/metabolism
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets/ultrastructure
  • Viral Matrix Proteins/immunology
  • Viral Matrix Proteins/metabolism

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