Conventional T cells recognise protein-derived antigens in the context of Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) class Ia and class II molecules and provide anti-microbial and anti-tumour immunity. Conventional T cells have also been implicated in type IV (also termed delayed-type or T cell mediated) hypersensitivity reactions in response to protein-derived allergen antigens. In addition to conventional T cells, subsets of unconventional T cells exist, which recognise non-protein antigens in the context of monomorphic MHC class I-like molecules. These include T cells that are restricted to the cluster of differentiation 1 (CD1) family members, known as CD1-restricted T cells, and mucosal-associated invariant T cells (MAIT cells) that are restricted to the MHC-related protein 1 (MR1). Compared to conventional T cells, much less is known about the immune functions of unconventional T cells and their role in hypersensitivities. Here we review allergen antigen presentation by MHC-I-like molecules, their recognition by unconventional T cells, and the potential role of unconventional T cells in hypersensitivities. We also speculate on possible scenarios of allergen antigen presentation by MHC-I-like molecules to unconventional T cells, the hallmarks of such responses, and the expected frequencies of hypersensitivities within the human population.
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