T cells are required for protective immunity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis. We recently described a cohort of Ugandan household contacts of tuberculosis cases who appear to “resist” M. tuberculosis infection (resisters; RSTRs) and showed that these individuals harbor IFN-γ–independent T cell responses to M. tuberculosis–specific peptide antigens. However, T cells also recognize nonprotein antigens via antigen-presenting systems that are independent of genetic background, known as donor-unrestricted T cells (DURTs). We used tetramer staining and flow cytometry to characterize the association between DURTs and “resistance” to M. tuberculosis infection. Peripheral blood frequencies of most DURT subsets were comparable between RSTRs and latently infected controls (LTBIs). However, we observed a 1.65-fold increase in frequency of MR1-restricted T (MR1T) cells among RSTRs in comparison with LTBIs. Single-cell RNA sequencing of 18,251 MR1T cells sorted from 8 donors revealed 5,150 clonotypes that expressed a common transcriptional program, the majority of which were private. Sequencing of the T cell receptor α/T cell receptor δ (TCRα/δ) repertoire revealed several DURT clonotypes were expanded among RSTRs, including 2 MR1T clonotypes that recognized mycobacteria-infected cells in a TCR-dependent manner. Overall, our data reveal unexpected donor-specific diversity in the TCR repertoire of human MR1T cells as well as associations between mycobacteria-reactive MR1T clonotypes and resistance to M. tuberculosis infection.


Deborah L. Cross, Erik D. Layton, Krystle K.Q. Yu, Malisa T. Smith, Melissa S. Aguilar, Shamin Li, Elise C. Wilcox, Aude G. Chapuis, Harriet Mayanja-Kizza, Catherine M. Stein, W. Henry Boom, Thomas R. Hawn, Philip Bradley, Evan W. Newell, Chetan Seshadri


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