Natural killer (NK) cells can detect whether cells have undergone tumour transformation or viral infection. The discovery of specific inhibitory receptors for major histocompatibility complex class I molecules clarified the basis of this discrimination. However, the receptors responsible for NK-cell triggering in the process of natural cytotoxicity remained elusive until recently. Here, Allessandro Moretta and colleagues describe the identification and characterization of several such receptors.
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