Protection from lysis by natural killer cells of group 1 and 2 specificity is mediated by residue 80 in human histocompatibility leukocyte antigen C alleles and also occurs with empty major histocompatibility complex molecules

Ofer Mandelboim, Hugh T. Reyburn, Mar Valés-Gómez, Laszlo Pazmany, Marco Colonna, Giovanna Borsellino, Jack L. Strominger

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Recognition of major histocompatibility complex class I molecules by natural killer (NK) cells leads to inhibition of target cell lysis. Based on the capacity of different human histocompatibility leukocyte antigen (HLA)-C and HLA-B molecules to inhibit target cell lysis by NK lines and clones, three NK allospecificities have been defined: NK1 and NK2 cells are inhibited by different HLA-C allotypes and NK3 cells by some HLA-B allotypes. The NK1 and NK2 inhibitory ligands on target cells correspond to a dimorphism of HLA- C at residues 77 and 80 in the α1 helix: Asn77-Lys80 in NK1 and Ser77-Asn80 in NK2 inhibitory ligands. It has been reported that protection from NK1 killers depended on the presence of the Lys residue at position 80, an upward pointing residue near the end of the α1 helix (and not on Asn77), whereas inhibition of NK2 effector cells required Ser77, a residue deep in the F pocket and interacting with the peptide (and not Asn80). As part of ongoing experiments to investigate the structural requirements for NK cell inhibition by HLA-C locus alleles, we also examined the effects of mutations at residues 77 and 80 on the ability of HLA-C alleles to confer protection from NK lysis. We present data confirming that the NK1 specificity depended on Lys80 (and not on Asn77): however recognition of NK2 ligands by NK cells was also controlled by the amino acid at position 80 (Asn), and mutation of Ser77 had no effect. Furthermore, bound peptide was shown to be unnecessary for the inhibition of NK cell-mediated lysis since HLA-C molecules assembled in the absence of peptide in RMA-S cells at 26°C were fully competent to inhibit NK cells specifically. The implications of these data for peptide-independent recognition of HLA-C by NK receptors are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)913-922
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 1996


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology

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