Despite a high degree of conservation, subtle but important differences exist between the CD1d antigen presentation pathways of humans and mice. These differences may account for the minimal success of Natural Killer T (NKT) cell-based anti-tumor therapies in human clinical trials, which contrast strongly with the powerful anti-tumor effects in conventional mouse models. To develop an accurate model for in vivo human CD1d (hCD1d) antigen presentation, we have generated the first hCD1d knock-in (hCD1d-KI) mouse. In these mice, hCD1d is expressed in a native tissue distribution pattern and supports NKT cell development. Reduced numbers of invariant NKT (iNKT) cells were observed, but at an abundance comparable to that in most normal humans. These iNKT cells predominantly expressed mouse Vβ8, the homolog of human Vβ11, and phenotypically resembled human iNKT cells in their reduced expression of CD4. Importantly, iNKT cells in hCD1d-KI mice exert potent anti-tumor function in a melanoma challenge model. Our results show that replacement of mCD1d by hCD1d can select a population of functional iNKT cells closely resembling human iNKT cells. These hCD1d knock-in mice will allow more accurate in vivo modeling of human iNKT cell responses and will facilitate the preclinical assessment of iNKT cell-targeted anti-tumor therapies.
- Copyright © 2013 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.