Journal of Clinical Immunology

, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp 249–263 | Cite as

The biology of the human natural killer cell

  • John C. Roder
  • Hugh F. Pross
Special Article


Natural killer (NK) cells in the human are a population of large granular lymphocytes (LGL) with at least one unique surface antigen not expressed on cells of other lineages. NK-target-cell interaction appears to involve carbohydrate recognition and, following binding, the NK cells are induced to generate O2, transmethylate membrane phospholipids, and activate phospholipase A2. Some or all of these activities trigger a cascade of events which ultimately leads to the secretion of a substance toxic to the target cell. A variety of genes controls various steps in this cytolytic pathway. There is a good deal of evidence in the mouse, and some in the human, that NK cells play a role in host surveillance against tumor development, resistance to viral infections, and, possibly, hematopoietic regulation.

Key words

Natural killer cells immune surveillance viral resistance hematopoietic regulation 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • John C. Roder
    • 1
  • Hugh F. Pross
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Microbiology & ImmunologyQueen's UniversityKingstonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Radiation OncologyQueen's UniversityKingstonCanada

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