CD1a-autoreactive T cells are a normal component of the human αβ T cell repertoire.
CD1 activates T cells, but the function and size of the possible human T cell repertoires that recognize each of the CD1 antigen-presenting molecules remain unknown. Using an experimental system that bypasses major histocompatibility complex (MHC) restriction and the requirement for defined antigens, we show that polyclonal T cells responded at higher rates to cells expressing CD1a than to those expressing CD1b, CD1c or CD1d. Unlike the repertoire of invariant natural killer T (NKT) cells, the CD1a-autoreactive repertoire contained diverse T cell antigen receptors (TCRs). Functionally, many CD1a-autoreactive T cells homed to skin, where they produced interleukin 22 (IL-22) in response to CD1a on Langerhans cells. The strong and frequent responses among genetically diverse donors define CD1a-autoreactive cells as a normal part of the human T cell repertoire and CD1a as a target of the T(H)22 subset of helper T cells.