Human natural killer cells: Molecular mechanisms controlling NK cell activation and tumor cell lysis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Natural killer cells represent a highly specialized lymphoid population with a potent cytolytic activity against virus-infected or tumor cells. Their function is regulated by a series of inhibiting or activating signals. The mechanisms by which NK cells kill susceptible target cells was thought to be elucidated after the discovery of inhibitory receptors specific for MHC-class I molecules: NK cells would kill those target cells that lack MHC-class I molecules. However, the actual scenario revealed more complex with the discovery of activating receptors and their ligands. Thus, in certain pathological conditions, corticosteroid treatment or exposure to TGFβ, NK cells may under-express activating receptors. In addition, target cells may lack ligands for activating receptors and thus fail to activate NK cells upon cell-to-cell contact. This clearly implies that activation of NK cells and of their potent effector mechanism are under the control of different checkpoints.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-13
Number of pages7
JournalImmunology Letters
Volume100
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 15 2005

Keywords

  • Activating NK receptors
  • Cellular ligands
  • Inhibitory NK receptors
  • Innate immunity
  • NK cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy

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