Innate-like T cells, including invariant NKT cells, mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells, and γ δ T (γδT) cells, are groups of unconventional T lymphocytes. They play important roles in the immune system. Because of the lack of Cre recombinase lines that are specific for innate-like T cells, pan-T cell Cre lines are often used to study innate-like T cells. In this study, we found that distal Lck promoter-driven Cre (dLckCre) in which the distal Lck gene promoter drives Cre expression in the late stage of thymocyte development has limited function in the innate-like T cells using ROSA26floxed-Stop-tdTomato reporter. Innate-like T cells differentiate into mature functional subsets comparable to the CD4+ Th subsets under homeostatic conditions. We further showed that dLckCre-expressing γδT cells are strongly biased toward γδT1 phenotype. Interestingly, the γδT cells residing in the epidermis and comprising the vast majority of dendritic epidermal T cells nearly all express dLckCre, indicating dLckCre is a useful tool for studying dendritic epidermal T cells. Taken together, these data suggest that Lck distal promoter has different activity in the conventional and unconventional T cells. The use of dLCKcre transgenic mice in the innate-like T cells needs to be guided by a reporter for the dLckCre function.
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