Differentiation of human peripheral blood Vδ1+ T cells expressing the natural cytotoxicity receptor NKp30 for recognition of lymphoid leukemia cells

Blood. 2011 Jul 28;118(4):992-1001. doi: 10.1182/blood-2011-02-339135. Epub 2011 Jun 1.


The success of cancer immunotherapy depends on productive tumor cell recognition by killer lymphocytes. γδ T cells are a population of innate-like lymphocytes endowed with strong, MHC-unrestricted cytotoxicity against tumor cells. This notwithstanding, we recently showed that a large proportion of human hematologic tumors is resistant to γδ peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs) activated with specific agonists to the highly prevalent Vγ9Vδ2 TCR. Although this probably constitutes an important limitation to current γδ T cell-mediated immunotherapy strategies, we describe here the differentiation of a novel subset of Vδ2(-) Vδ1(+) PBLs expressing natural cytotoxicity receptors (NCRs) that directly mediate killing of leukemia cell lines and chronic lymphocytic leukemia patient neoplastic cells. We show that Vδ1(+) T cells can be selectively induced to express NKp30, NKp44 and NKp46, through a process that requires functional phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI-3K)/AKT signaling on stimulation with γ(c) cytokines and TCR agonists. The stable expression of NCRs is associated with high levels of granzyme B and enhanced cytotoxicity against lymphoid leukemia cells. Specific gain-of-function and loss-of-function experiments demonstrated that NKp30 makes the most important contribution to TCR-independent leukemia cell recognition. Thus, NKp30(+) Vδ1(+) T cells constitute a novel, inducible and specialized killer lymphocyte population with high potential for immunotherapy of human cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Separation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic / immunology
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Lymphoid / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Natural Cytotoxicity Triggering Receptor 3 / biosynthesis
  • Natural Cytotoxicity Triggering Receptor 3 / immunology*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / cytology*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism


  • NCR3 protein, human
  • Natural Cytotoxicity Triggering Receptor 3
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta