Article

Immunologic Research

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 539-548

First online:

Structure and function of natural-killer-cell receptors

  • Peter D. SunAffiliated withStructural Immunology Section Laboratory of Immunogenetics National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health Email author 

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Abstract

The function of natural-killer (NK) cells is modulated by the balance between a number of activating and inhibitory receptors. Killer immunoglobulinlike receptors (KIRs) are mostly inhibitory receptors. They play a critical role in recognizing self-class-I major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules and thus protect healthy host cells from NK-targeted lysis. In contrast, both NKG2D and CD16 are activating NK receptors that trigger the NK-cell lysis of various tumor and virally infected cells through either direct ligand engagement or antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC). Through structural studies of members of these distinct receptor families, in particular, the structure and recognition between KIR2DL2 and HLA-Cw3, that between NKG2D and ULBP3, and that between CD16 and IgG Fc, considerable understandings have been achieved about their function and their ligand recognition.

Key Words

KIR NKG2D Fc receptors Crystal structure Immunoreceptors NK receptors