Sensor Function for Butyrophilin 3A1 in Prenyl Pyrophosphate Stimulation of Human Vγ2Vδ2 T Cells

J Immunol. 2015 Nov 15;195(10):4583-94. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1500314. Epub 2015 Oct 16.


Vγ2Vδ2 T cells play important roles in human immunity to pathogens and in cancer immunotherapy by responding to isoprenoid metabolites, such as (E)-4-hydroxy-3-methyl-but-2-enyl pyrophosphate and isopentenyl pyrophosphate. The Ig superfamily protein butyrophilin (BTN)3A1 was shown to be required for prenyl pyrophosphate stimulation. We proposed that the intracellular B30.2 domain of BTN3A1 binds prenyl pyrophosphates, resulting in a change in the extracellular BTN3A1 dimer that is detected by Vγ2Vδ2 TCRs. Such B30.2 binding was demonstrated recently. However, other investigators reported that the extracellular BTN3A1 IgV domain binds prenyl pyrophosphates, leading to the proposal that the Vγ2Vδ2 TCR recognizes the complex. To distinguish between these mechanisms, we mutagenized residues in the two binding sites and tested the mutant BTN3A1 proteins for their ability to mediate prenyl pyrophosphate stimulation of Vγ2Vδ2 T cells to proliferate and secrete TNF-α. Mutagenesis of residues in the IgV site had no effect on Vγ2Vδ2 T cell proliferation or secretion of TNF-α. In contrast, mutagenesis of residues within the basic pocket and surrounding V regions of the B30.2 domain abrogated prenyl pyrophosphate-induced proliferation. Mutations of residues making hydrogen bonds to the pyrophosphate moiety also abrogated TNF-α secretion, as did mutation of aromatic residues making contact with the alkenyl chain. Some mutations further from the B30.2 binding site also diminished stimulation, suggesting that the B30.2 domain may interact with a second protein. These findings support intracellular sensing of prenyl pyrophosphates by BTN3A1 rather than extracellular presentation.

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.

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD / chemistry
  • Antigens, CD / genetics
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism*
  • Binding Sites
  • Butyrophilins
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects*
  • Cell Proliferation / genetics
  • HeLa Cells
  • Hemiterpenes / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Organophosphorus Compounds / metabolism*
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • RNA Interference
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism*


  • (E)-4-hydroxy-3-methylbut-2-enyl diphosphate
  • Antigens, CD
  • BTN3A1 protein, human
  • Butyrophilins
  • Hemiterpenes
  • Organophosphorus Compounds
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • isopentenyl pyrophosphate