Human Natural Killer cell receptors: Insights into their molecular function and structure

Roberto Biassoni, Claudia Cantoni, D. Marras, J. Giron-Michel, Michela Falco, L. Moretta, N. Dimasi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


NK cells express receptors characterized by opposite functions that finely regulate their activities. Among inhibitory receptors, some are specific for different groups of MHC class I alleles, while others are still orphan receptors. On the contrary, various activating receptors are involved in the triggering of NK-mediated natural cytotoxicity. In general, their engagement induces human NK cells to kill target cells that are either HLA class I-negative or -deficient. Thus, the process of NK cell triggering mediated by Natural Cytotoxicity Receptors can be mainly considered as a non MHC-restricted mechanism. Here, a brief description of the molecular nature of these receptors, as well as, of their 3D-structures and of the implications for ligand recognition, is given.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)376-387
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2003


  • Activating Receptors
  • Crystal Structure
  • Immunoglobulin Superfamily (Ig-SF)
  • Inhibitory Receptors
  • Leucocyte Ig-like Receptor Complex (LRC)
  • MHC
  • Natural Cytotoxicity Receptors (NCRs)
  • Natural Killer (NK)
  • Sialic acid-binding Ig-like lectin (Siglec)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Biochemistry


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