Notch Signaling Regulates the Homeostasis of Tissue-Restricted Innate-like T Cells
Although Notch signaling plays important roles in lineage commitment and differentiation of multiple cell types including conventional T cells, nothing is currently known concerning Notch function in innate-like T cells. We have found that the homeostasis of several well-characterized populations of innate-like T cells including invariant NKT cells (iNKT), CD8 alpha alpha TCR alpha beta small intestinal intraepithelial lymphocytes, and innate memory phenotype CD8 T cells is controlled by Notch. Notch selectively regulates hepatic iNKT cell survival via tissue-restricted control of B cell lymphoma 2 and IL-7R alpha expression. More generally, Notch regulation of innate-like T cell homeostasis involves both cell-intrinsic and -extrinsic mechanisms and relies upon context-dependent interactions with Notch ligand-expressing fibroblastic stromal cells. Collectively, using conditional ablation of Notch receptors on peripheral T cells or Notch ligands on putative fibroblastic stromal cells, we show that Notch signaling is indispensable for the homeostasis of three tissue-restricted populations of innate-like T cells: hepatic iNKT, CD8 alpha alpha TCR alpha beta small intestinal intraepithelial lymphocytes, and innate memory phenotype CD8 T cells, thus supporting a generalized role for Notch in innate T cell homeostasis.