Mice have frequently been used to model human diseases involving immune dysregulation such as autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. These models help elucidate the mechanisms underlying the disease and in the development of novel therapies. However, if mice are deficient in certain cells and/or effectors associated with human diseases, how can their functions be investigated in this species? Mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells, a novel innate-like T cell family member, are a good example. MAIT cells are abundant in humans but scarce in laboratory mice. MAIT cells harbor an invariant T cell receptor and recognize nonpeptidic antigens vitamin B2 metabolites from bacteria and yeasts. Recent studies have shown that MAIT cells play a pivotal role in human diseases such as bacterial infections and autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. MAIT cells possess granulysin, a human-specific effector molecule, but granulysin and its homologue are absent in mice. Furthermore, MAIT cells show poor proliferation in vitro. To overcome these problems and further our knowledge of MAIT cells, we have established a method to expand MAIT cells via induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). In this review, we describe recent advances in the field of MAIT cell research and our approach for human disease modeling with iPSC-derived MAIT cells.
Keywords: Adoptive transfer; Autoimmune diseases; Differentiation; Disease modeling; Immunocompromised mouse; Induced pluripotent stem cells; Infectious diseases; Inflammatory diseases; Mucosal-associated invariant T cells.