Naturally activated V gamma 4 gamma delta T cells play a protective role in tumor immunity through expression of eomesodermin.
ABSTRACT We previously demonstrated that gammadelta T cells played an important role in tumor immune surveillance by providing an early source of IFN-gamma. The precise role of different subsets of gammadelta T cells in the antitumor immune response, however, is unknown. Vgamma1 and Vgamma4 gammadelta T cells are the principal subsets of peripheral lymphoid gammadelta T cells and they might play distinct roles in tumor immunity. In support of this, we observed that reconstitution of TCRdelta(-/-) mice with Vgamma4, but not Vgamma1, gammadelta T cells restored the antitumor response. We also found that these effects were exerted by the activated (CD44(high)) portion of Vgamma4 gammadelta T cells. We further determined that IFN-gamma and perforin are critical elements in the Vgamma4-mediated antitumor immune response. Indeed, CD44(high) Vgamma4 gammadelta T cells produced significantly more IFN-gamma and perforin on activation, and showed greater cytolytic activity than did CD44(high) Vgamma1 gammadelta T cells, apparently due to the high level of eomesodermin (Eomes) in these activated Vgamma4 gammadelta T cells. Consistently, transfection of dominant-negative Eomes in Vgamma4 gammadelta T cells diminished the level of IFN-gamma secretion, indicating a critical role of Eomes in the effector function of these gammadelta T cells. Our results thus reveal distinct functions of Vgamma4 and Vgamma1 gammadelta T cells in antitumor immune response, and identify a protective role of activated Vgamma4 gammadelta T cells, with possible implications for tumor immune therapy.