Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis



Thesis Type

College of Arts and Science Honors, Honors College

First Advisor

Jonathan Boyson

Second Advisor

Melissa Pespeni

Third Advisor

Matt Poynter


NKT, congenic, immune, Slam genes


NKT cells are specialized T cells that play important roles in the host immune response to bacteria and viruses. NKT cells produce a wide variety of cytokines and chemokines after being activated by glycolipids such as α-galactosylceramide (αGalCer). Previous work suggested that the ability of NKT cells to be activated by aGalCer mapped to a genetic region encompassing a gene family (Slam genes) that is known to be important in NKT cell development, but the exact gene in this region which regulates NKT cells is unknown. This study utilizes a panel of C57BL/6 (B6) mice containing different regions of chromosome 1 derived from 129X1/SvJ mice (B6.129 congenics) to identify candidate genes regulating NKT cell function by positionally mapping the genes within this locus. We assessed NKT cell function in B6.129c2 (C2), B6.129c3 (C3), and B6.129c4 (C4) mice, which contain 129 intervals ranging from 0.1-1 megabase pairs (Mbp). To assess NKT cell function, we injected mice with αGalCer, which specifically activates NKT cells. Flow cytometry was utilized to determine NKT cell IL-4, TNF, and IFN-g expression on a per cell basis and ELISA assays were conducted to observe the overall magnitude of the NKT cell response. There was a significant reduction in the TNF, IL-4, and IFNγ production in all congenic mice as compared to B6 controls. These data suggested that the NKT cell response to αGalCer mapped to a 0.1 Mbp region on chromosome 1 (the C3 interval), which excluded Slam genes as potential genes regulating these NKT cell functions. Possible candidate genes of interest in this locus are ApoA2, which encodes a protein involved in lipid transport, and Fcer1g, which encodes a protein that has recently been implicated in the development of different NKT cell subsets.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.