NKp46+CD3+ Cells: A Novel Nonconventional T Cell Subsetin Cattle Exhibiting Both NK Cell and T Cell Features

Timothy K. Connelley, Cassandra Longhi, Alison Burrells, Kathryn Degnan, Jayne Hope, Alasdair J. Allan, John A. Hammond, Anne K. Storset, W. Ivan Morrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The NKp46 receptor demonstrates a high degree of lineage specificity, being expressed almost exclusively in NK cells. Previous studies have demonstrated NKp46 expression by T cells, but NKp46(+)CD3(+) cells are rare and almost universally associated with NKp46 acquisition by T cells following stimulation. In this study we demonstrate the existence of a population of NKp46(+)CD3(+) cells resident in normal bovine PBMCs that includes cells of both the αβ TCR(+) and γδ TCR(+) lineages and is present at a frequency of 0.1-1.7%. NKp46(+)CD3(+) cells express transcripts for a broad repertoire of both NKRs and TCRs and also the CD3ζ, DAP10, and FcεR1γ but not DAP12 adaptor proteins. In vitro functional analysis of NKp46(+)CD3(+) cells confirm that NKp46, CD16, and CD3 signaling pathways are all functionally competent and capable of mediating/redirecting cytolysis. However, only CD3 cross-ligation elicits IFN-γ release. NKp46(+)CD3(+) cells exhibit cytotoxic activity against autologous Theileria parva-infected cells in vitro, and during in vivo challenge with this parasite an expansion of NKp46(+)CD3(+) cells was observed in some animals, indicating the cells have the potential to act as an anti-pathogen effector population. The results in this study identify and describe a novel nonconventional NKp46(+)CD3(+) T cell subset that is phenotypically and functionally distinct from conventional NK and T cells. The ability to exploit both NKRs and TCRs suggests these cells may fill a functional niche at the interface of innate and adaptive immune responses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3868-3880
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2014



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