Cell wall glycosphingolipids of Sphingomonas paucimobilis are CD1d-specific ligands for NKT cells

Eur J Immunol. 2005 Jun;35(6):1692-701. doi: 10.1002/eji.200526157.


The current consensus on characterization of NKT cells is based on their reactivity to the synthetic glycolipid, alpha-galactosylceramide (alpha-GalCer) in a CD1d-dependent manner. Because of the limited availability of alpha-GalCer, there is a constant search for CD1d-presented ligands that activate NKT cells. The alpha-anomericity of the carbohydrate is considered to be an important requisite for the CD1d-specific activation of NKT cells. The gram-negative, lipopolysaccharide-free bacterium Sphingomonas paucimobilis is known to contain glycosphingolipids (GSL) with alpha-anomeric sugars attached to the lipid chain. Here, we report that GSL extracted from this bacterium are able to stimulate NKT cells in a CD1d-specific manner. In addition, soluble CD1d-Ig dimers loaded with this lipid extract specifically bind to NKT cells (but not conventional T cells). Further studies on the S. paucimobilis GSL could potentially lead to other natural sources of CD1d-specific ligands useful for NKT cell analyses and aimed at identifying novel therapies for a variety of disease states.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation
  • Antigens, CD1 / metabolism*
  • Antigens, CD1d
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Wall / chemistry
  • Ceramides / metabolism
  • Glycosphingolipids / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology
  • Killer Cells, Natural / metabolism*
  • Ligands
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Sphingomonas / chemistry*


  • Antigens, CD1
  • Antigens, CD1d
  • CD1D protein, human
  • Ceramides
  • Glycosphingolipids
  • Ligands