Immunologic Research

, 40:193 | Cite as

Extrinsic and intrinsic regulation of early natural killer cell development

  • Markus D. Boos
  • Kevin Ramirez
  • Barbara L. KeeEmail author


Natural killer (NK) cells are lymphocytes that play a critical role in both adaptive and innate immune responses. These cells develop from multipotent progenitors in the embryonic thymus and neonatal or adult bone marrow and recent evidence suggests that a subset of these cells may develop in the thymus. Thymus- and bone marrow-derived NK cells have unique phenotypes and functional abilities supporting the hypothesis that the microenvironment dictates the outcome of NK cell development. A detailed understanding of the mechanisms controlling this developmental program will be required to determine how alterations in NK cell development lead to disease and to determine how to harness this developmental program for therapeutic purposes. In this review, we discuss some of the known extrinsic stromal-cell derived factors and cell intrinsic transcription factors that function in guiding NK cell development.


NK cells Transcription factors Cytokines Stromal cell Lineage commitment 



We thank the members of our laboratory and Stephen Nutt for insightful discussion and helpful comments on this manuscript. Work from our lab was supported by the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute R01 CA099978.


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Markus D. Boos
    • 1
  • Kevin Ramirez
    • 1
  • Barbara L. Kee
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Committees on ImmunologyThe University of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Cancer BiologyThe University of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Developmental BiologyThe University of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  4. 4.Department of PathologyThe University of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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