Intradermal vaccination with Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) protects infants from disseminated tuberculosis, and i.v. BCG protects nonhuman primates (NHP) against pulmonary and extrapulmonary tuberculosis. In humans and NHP, protection is thought to be mediated by T cells, which typically recognize bacterial peptide Ags bound to MHC proteins. However, during vertebrate evolution, T cells acquired the capacity to recognize lipid Ags bound to CD1a, CD1b, and CD1c proteins expressed on APCs. It is unknown whether BCG induces T cell immunity to mycobacterial lipids and whether CD1-restricted T cells are resident in the lung. In this study, we developed and validated Macaca mulatta (Mamu) CD1b and CD1c tetramers to probe ex vivo phenotypes and functions of T cells specific for glucose monomycolate (GMM), an immunodominant mycobacterial lipid Ag. We discovered that CD1b and CD1c present GMM to T cells in both humans and NHP. We show that GMM-specific T cells are expanded in rhesus macaque blood 4 wk after i.v. BCG, which has been shown to protect NHP with near-sterilizing efficacy upon M. tuberculosis challenge. After vaccination, these T cells are detected at high frequency within bronchoalveolar fluid and express CD69 and CD103, markers associated with resident memory T cells. Thus, our data expand the repertoire of T cells known to be induced by whole cell mycobacterial vaccines, such as BCG, and show that lipid Ag-specific T cells are resident in the lungs, where they may contribute to protective immunity.
Copyright © 2021 The Authors.