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CD1 molecules are specialized in presenting lipids to T lymphocytes, but identification and isolation of CD1-restricted lipid specific T cells has been hampered by the lack of reliable and sensitive techniques. We here report the construction of CD1d-glycolipid tetramers from fully denatured human CD1d molecules by using the technique of oxidative refolding chromatography. We demonstrate that chaperone- and foldase-assisted refolding of denatured CD1d molecules and beta(2)-microglobulin in the presence of synthetic lipids is a rapid method for the generation of functional and specific CD1d tetramers, which unlike previously published protocols ensures isolation of CD1d tetramers loaded with a single lipid species. The use of human CD1d-alpha-galactosylceramide tetramers for ex vivo staining of peripheral blood lymphocytes and intrahepatic T cells from patients with viral liver cirrhosis allowed for the first time simultaneous analysis of frequency and specificity of natural killer T cells in human clinical samples. Application of this protocol to other members of the CD1 family will provide powerful tools to investigate lipid-specific T cell immune responses in health and in disease.

Original publication




Journal article


Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

Publication Date





3294 - 3298


Animals, Antigens, CD1, Antigens, CD1d, Cells, Cultured, Ceramides, Glycolipids, Hepatitis C, Humans, Ligands, Liver Cirrhosis, Mice, Mice, Knockout, Oxidation-Reduction, Protein Folding, Staining and Labeling