Receptors for MHC Class I Molecules in Human Natural Killer Cells

  • Marco Colonna


Natural Killer (NK) cells constitute a subset of lymphocytes characterized by distinct functions, cell-surface markers, and morphology (Table 14.1).1 Functionally, NK cells are viewed as a first line of defense against tumor growth and infections due to their ability to kill tumor cells and cells infected by intracellular pathogens without prior antigen sensitization.2–4 NK cells also regulate B and T cell immune responses. They kill IgG antibody-coated targets by antibody dependent cytotoxicity (ADCC) and produce cytokines, such as interferon (IFN)-γ, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF).5 Phenotypically, NK cells express neither surface immunoglobulins nor T cell antigen receptors (TCRs). Human NK cells express CD566,7 and/or CD16 (FcγRIII), which is associated either with CD3ξ or with the γ chain of FcεRI.8–12 In addition, NK cells share some cell surface markers with T cells, such as CD2, CD7 and CD813 and develop from an immediate progenitor cell that is in common with T lymphocytes.14,15 Morphologically, mature NK cells correspond to a population of lymphocytes known as large granular lymphocytes (LGL).16,17


Natural Killer Natural Killer Cell Major Histocompatibility Complex Molecule Human Natural Killer Cell Immunoreceptor Tyrosine Base Activation Motif 
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  • Marco Colonna

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