Natural killer T cells represent a small (< 1%) population of peripheral blood T cells and appear to be positioned somewhere between conventional T cells and NK cells in that they express a TCR but also a range of receptors typically associated with NK cells. Moreover, the TCR is invariant, with the same VP11Va24 heterodimer being expressed on all cells. NKT cells recognize lipid antigens presented on the surface of CD1d molecules, CD1d being a protein with homology to MHC class I. It appears that NKT cells are activated very early in an immune response although their functional significance is uncertain.
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