Several small populations of T cells are able to recognize nonprotein antigens without the involvement of class I or class II MHC molecules. Thus, these populations are exceptions to the rule that T cells can see only MHC-associated peptides. The best defined of these populations are NKT cells and y8 T cells.
NKT cells express markers that are characteristic of both natural killer (NK) cells and T lymphocytes and express aP T cell receptors with very limited diversity (see Chapter 10). NKT cells recognize lipids and glycolipids displayed by the class I-like "non-classical" MHC molecule called CD1. There are several CD1 proteins expressed in humans and mice. Although their intracellular traffic pathways differ in subtle ways, all the CD1 molecules bind and display lipids by a unique pathway. Newly
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