Distinct Features of Canine Non-conventional CD4CD8α Double-Negative TCRαβ+ vs. TCRγδ+ T Cells

Friederike V. Rabiger, Kathrin Rothe, Heiner von Buttlar, Doris Bismarck, Mathias Büttner, Peter F. Moore, Maria Eschke, Gottfried Alber

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2 Scopus citations


The role of conventional TCRαβ+CD4+ or TCRαβ+CD8α+ single-positive (sp) T lymphocytes in adaptive immunity is well-recognized. However, non-conventional T cells expressing TCRαβ or TCRγδ but lacking CD4 and CD8α expression [i.e., CD4CD8α double-negative (dn) T cells] are thought to play a role at the interface between the innate and adaptive immune system. Dn T cells are frequent in swine, cattle or sheep and predominantly express TCRγδ. In contrast, TCRγδ+ T cells are rare in dogs. In this study, we identified a high proportion of canine dn T cells in the TCRαβ+ T cell population of PBMC, lymphatic and non-lymphatic organs. In PBMC, the frequency of this T cell subpopulation made up one third of the frequency of TCRαβ+CD4+ sp, and almost half of the frequency of TCRαβ+CD8α+ sp T cells (i.e., ~15% of all TCRαβ+ T cells). Among TCRαβ+CD4CD8α dn T cells of PBMC and tissues, FoxP3+ cells were identified indicating regulatory potential of this T cell subset. 80% of peripheral blood FoxP3+TCRαβ+CD4CD8α dn T cells co-expressed CD25, and, interestingly, also the FoxP3-negative TCRαβ+CD4CD8α dn T cells comprised ~34% CD25+ cells. Some of the FoxP3-positive TCRαβ+CD4CD8α dn T cells co-expressed GATA-3 suggesting stable function of regulatory T cells. The frequency of GATA-3 expression by FoxP3TCRαβ+CD4CD8α dn T cells was even higher as compared with TCRαβ+CD4+ sp T cells (20.6% vs. 11.9%). Albeit lacking FoxP3 and CD25 expression, TCRγδ+CD4CD8α dn T cells also expressed substantial proportions of GATA-3. In addition, TCRαβ+CD4CD8α dn T cells produced IFN-γ and IL-17A upon stimulation. T-bet and granzyme B were only weakly expressed by both dn T cell subsets. In conclusion, this study identifies two dn T cell subsets in the dog: (i) a large (~7.5% in Peyer's patches, ~15% in lung) population of TCRαβ+CD4CD8α dn T cells with subpopulations thereof showing an activated phenotype, high expression of FoxP3 or GATA-3 as well as production of IFN-γ or IL-17A and (ii) a small TCRγδ+CD4CD8α dn T cell subset also expressing GATA-3 without production of IFN-γ or IL-17A. It will be exciting to unravel the function of each subset during immune homeostasis and diseases of dogs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2748
JournalFrontiers in immunology
StatePublished - Nov 22 2019


  • canine T cells
  • CD4CD8α
  • dog
  • double-negative
  • non-conventional T cells
  • TCRαβ
  • TCRγδ

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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