Natural killer cells lyse autologous herpes simplex virus infected targets using cytolytic mechanisms distributed clonotypically

Gabriella Pietra, Claudia Semino, Francesca Cagnoni, Luca Boni, Giuliana Cangemi, Guido Frumento, Giovanni Melioli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Natural killer (NK) cells have the capability of lysing targets that have down-regulated the expression of HLA class I molecules. Herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection results in a profound reduction of HLA class I molecules on the surface of infected cells. For this reason, NK cell populations kill efficiently HSV-infected cells. The recent availability of a panel of monoclonal antibodies directed to NK receptors for HLA class I (CD158a, CD158b, anti-p70, anti-p140, and CD94) allowed an accurate dissection of the NK cell subpopulations. Using this approach, the relationship between the expression of NK cell receptors and the capability of lysing HSV-infected cell targets was analyzed at the clonal level. NK cell clones were derived from healthy donors, and cytolytic properties were assayed against HSV-infected autologous fibroblasts. NK cell clones, classified according to the expression of natural killer-cell receptors on their surface, displayed a great heterogeneity of cytolytic properties against HSV-infected cells. Nevertheless, a more accurate functional analysis demonstrated not only that HSV infection downregulated the expression of HLA-A and HLA-B and did not modify the expression of HLA-C, but also that NK cell clones expressing the 'activating' form of the anti HLA-C NK cell receptor were more cytolytic than other clones. This finding suggests that two different and clonally distributed mechanisms of NK cell activation may be employed by NK cells to kill HSV-infected autologous target cells. (C) 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)354-363
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Medical Virology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • Killer-cell activating receptors
  • Killer-cell inhibitory receptors
  • Natural killer cell clones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology


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