A Rapid Fluorescence-Based Assay for Classification of iNKT Cell Activating Glycolipids

P Arora, MM Venkataswamy, A Baena, G Bricard, Q Li, Natacha Veerapen, R Ndonye, JJ Park, JH Lee, KC Seo, AR Howell, YT Chang, PA Illarionov, Gurdyal Besra, SK Chung, SA Porcelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Citations (Scopus)


Structural variants of alpha-galactosylceramide (alpha GC) that activate invariant natural killer T cells (iNKT cells) are being developed as potential immunomodulatory agents for a variety of applications. Identification of specific forms of these glycolipids that bias responses to favor production of proinflammatory vs anti-inflammatory cytokines is central to current efforts, but this goal has been hampered by the lack of in vitro screening assays that reliably predict the in vivo biological activity of these compounds. Here we describe a fluorescence-based assay to identify functionally distinct alpha GC analogues. Our assay is based on recent findings showing that presentation of glycolipid antigens by CD1d molecules localized to plasma membrane detergent-resistant microdomains (lipid rafts) is correlated with induction of interferon-gamma secretion and Th1-biased cytokine responses. Using an assay that measures lipid raft residency of CD1d molecules loaded with alpha GG, we screened a library of similar to 200 synthetic alpha GC analogues and identified 19 agonists with potential Th1-biasing activity. Analysis of a subset of these novel candidate Th1 type agonists in vivo in mice confirmed their ability to induce systemic cytokine responses consistent with a Th1 type bias. These results demonstrate the predictive value of this novel in vitro assay for assessing the in vivo functionality of glycolipid agonists and provide the basis for a relatively simple high-throughput assay for identification and functional classification of iNKT cell activating glycolipids.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5198-5201
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2011


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