Functions Of Other T Cell Subsets

The majority of T cells are CD4+ helper cells and CD8+ CTLs. In addition to these, there are smaller populations of T cells that have distinct features and probably serve specialized functions in host defense. The best defined of these subsets are yS T cells and NKT cells. Both of these subsets have common characteristics that distinguish them from CD4+ and CD8+ T cells.

• yS T cells and NKT cells recognize a wide variety of antigens, many of which are not peptides, and these are not displayed by class I and class II MHC molecules on APCs.

• The antigen receptors of many y8 T cells and NKT cells have limited diversity, suggesting that both cell types may have evolved to recognize a small group of microbes. Because of this feature, these T cells are often said to be at the crossroads of innate and adaptive immunity.

• Both cell types are abundant in epithelial tissues, such as the gastrointestinal tract.

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