After the discovery, in humans and mice, of inhibitory natural killer (NK) receptors specific for MHC class I molecules, the mechanism by which NK cells kill tumor or virus-infected cells was thought to be clarified: NK cells would kill those target cells that have lost, or underexpress, MHC class I molecules. However, a more complex scenario has recently emerged. For example, certain NK cells express insufficient amounts of triggering receptors, and target cells can lack ligands for such receptors. Thus, it appears that the activation of NK cells and their potentially harmful effector functions are under the control of different checkpoints.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy