Leeansyah E, Hey YY, Sia WR, Ng JHJ, Gulam MY, Boulouis C, Zhu F, Ahn M, Mak JYW, Fairlie DP, Kwa ALH, Sandberg JK, Wang LF
iScience 23 (12) 101876 [2020-12-00; online 2020-12-00]
Bats are reservoirs for a large number of viruses which have potential to cause major human disease outbreaks, including the current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Major efforts are underway to understand bat immune response to viruses, whereas much less is known about their immune responses to bacteria. In this study, MR1-restricted T (MR1T) cells were detected through the use of MR1 tetramers in circulation and tissues of Pteropus alecto (Pa) bats. Pa MR1T cells exhibited weak responses to MR1-presented microbial metabolites at resting state. However, following priming with MR1-presented agonist they proliferated, upregulated critical transcription factors and cytolytic proteins, and gained transient expression of Th1/17-related cytokines and antibacterial cytotoxicity. Collectively, these findings show that the Pa bat immune system encompasses an abundant and functionally conserved population of MR1T cells with mucosal-associated invariant T-like characteristics, suggesting that MR1 and MR1T cells also play a significant role in bat immune defense.