RIPK3 controls MAIT cell accumulation during development but not during infection

Cell Death Dis. 2023 Feb 11;14(2):111. doi: 10.1038/s41419-023-05619-0.


Cell death mechanisms in T lymphocytes vary according to their developmental stage, cell subset and activation status. The cell death control mechanisms of mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells, a specialized T cell population, are largely unknown. Here we report that MAIT cells express key necroptotic machinery; receptor-interacting protein kinase 3 (RIPK3) and mixed lineage kinase domain-like (MLKL) protein, in abundance. Despite this, we discovered that the loss of RIPK3, but not necroptotic effector MLKL or apoptotic caspase-8, specifically increased MAIT cell abundance at steady-state in the thymus, spleen, liver and lungs, in a cell-intrinsic manner. In contrast, over the course of infection with Francisella tularensis, RIPK3 deficiency did not impact the magnitude of the expansion nor contraction of MAIT cell pools. These findings suggest that, distinct from conventional T cells, the accumulation of MAIT cells is restrained by RIPK3 signalling, likely prior to thymic egress, in a manner independent of canonical apoptotic and necroptotic cell death pathways.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Death
  • Humans
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Mucosal-Associated Invariant T Cells* / metabolism
  • Necrosis / metabolism
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Receptor-Interacting Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Receptor-Interacting Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism


  • Protein Kinases
  • Receptor-Interacting Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • RIPK3 protein, human