Immunobiology of Natural Killer Cell Receptors

Volume 298 of the series Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology pp 183-206

NK Cell Recognition of Mouse Cytomegalovirus-Infected Cells

  • S. M. VidalAffiliated withMcGill Center for Host Resistance, and Department of Microbiology and Immunology, McGill University
  • , L. L. LanierAffiliated withDepartment of Microbiology and Immunology, The Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, The Cancer Research Institute, University of California San Francisco Email author 

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Natural killer (NK) cells and cytomegalovirus have been locked in an evolutionary arms race for millions of years in an attempt to overwhelm each other. Cytomegaloviruses deploy cunning disguises to avoid detection by NK cells. Studies of the mouse model of infection have shown that NK cells deploy multiple mechanisms to deal with mouse cytomegalovirus (MCMV) infection, which involve receptors of the C-lectin type superfamily. Remarkably, these receptors have two additional common features: They map to the same genetic region, known as the NK cell gene complex; and they recognize MHC class I-related structures. While reviewing these attack-counterattack measures, this chapter points to the central role that recognition of the MCMV-infected cells by NK cells plays in host resistance to infection.