Wang J, Loveless I, Adrianto I, Liu T, Subedi K, Wu X, Hossain MM, Sebzda E, Zhou L, and Mi QS. Single-cell analysis reveals differences among iNKT cells colonizing peripheral organs and identifies Klf2 as a key gene for iNKT emigration. Cell Discov 2022; 8(1):75.
Invariant natural killer T cell (iNKT) subsets are differentially distributed in various immune organs. However, it remains unclear whether iNKT cells exhibit phenotypical and functional differences in different peripheral organs and how thymic iNKT cells emigrate to peripheral organs. Here, we used single-cell RNA-seq to map iNKT cells from peripheral organs. iNKT1 cells from liver, spleen, and lymph node appear to have distinct phenotypic profiles and functional capabilities. However, iNKT17 transcriptomes were comparable across peripheral organs. In addition, by integrating data with a thymic iNKT cell study, we uncovered a transient population of recent thymic emigrants, a cluster of peripheral iNKT cells with high expression of transcription factor Kruppel-like factor 2 (Klf2). Deletion of Klf2 led to a severe impairment of iNKT differentiation and migration. Our study revealed that iNKT subsets are uniquely distributed in peripheral organs with some inter-local tissue variation, especially for iNKT1 cell, and identified Klf2 as a rheostat for iNKT cell migration and differentiation.