The human natural cytotoxicity receptors (NCR) that induce HLA class I- independent NK cell triggering

Cristina Bottino, Roberto Biassoni, Romano Millo, Lorenzo Moretta, Alessandro Moretta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The cytolytic activity mediated by human natural killer (NK) cells is the result of a balance between signals delivered by inhibitory and activating receptors. The inhibitory receptors are represented by different families of HLA-specific receptors characterized by immuno-receptor tyrosine- based inhibiting motif (ITIM) sequences in their cytoplasmic portion. The function and the specificity of the inhibitory receptors imply the existence of triggering receptors specific for non-HLA ligands that are responsible for the induction of the cytolytic activity against HLA class I-deficient target cells. These receptors have remained elusive until recently when three distinct NK-specific molecules, termed natural cytotoxicity receptors (NCR), were identified and cloned. The different members of this novel family of receptors play a complementary role in the recognition and lysis of target cells. The NCR family is composed by a heterogeneous group of molecules belonging to the Ig superfamily that associate to different immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activating motif (ITAM)-containing signal transducing polypeptides.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalHuman Immunology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2000


  • Cytotoxicity
  • Lymphocytes
  • Surface receptors
  • Tumors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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