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Multiple cytokines regulate the NK gene complex-encoded receptor repertoire of mature NK cells and T cells

Lookup NU author(s): Frances Davison, Dr Jon Aust, Professor Colin Brooks


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Mature NK cells comprise a highly diverse population of lymphocytes that express different permutations of receptors to facilitate recognition of diseased cells and perhaps pathogens themselves. Many of these receptors, such as those belonging to the NKRP1, NKG2, and Ly49 families are encoded in the NK gene complex (NKC). It is generally thought that these NKC-encoded receptors are acquired by a poorly understood stochastic mechanism, which operates exclusively during NK cell development, and that following maturation the repertoire is fixed. However, we report a series of observations that demonstrates that the mature NK cell repertoire in mice can in fact be radically remodeled by multiple cytokines. Thus, both IL-2 and IL-15 selectively induce the de novo expression of Ly49E on the majority of mature NK cells. By contrast, IL-4 not only blocks this IL-2-induced acquisition of Ly49E, but reduces the proportion of mature NK cells that expresses pre-existing Ly49 receptors and abrogates the expression of NKG2 receptors while leaving the expression of several NKRP1 receptors unaltered. IL-21 also abrogates NKG2 expression on mature NK cells and selectively down-regulates Ly49F. IL-4 and IL-21 additionally cause dramatic and selective alterations in the NKC-encoded receptor repertoire of IL-2-activated T cells but these are quite different to the changes induced on NK cells. Collectively these findings reveal an unexpected aspect of NKC receptor expression that has important implications for our understanding of the function of these receptors and of the genetic mechanisms that control their expression. Copyright © 2005 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Gays F, Martin K, Kenefeck R, Aust JG, Brooks CG

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Immunology

Year: 2005

Volume: 175

Issue: 5

Pages: 2938-2947

Print publication date: 01/09/2005

Acceptance date: 01/06/2005

ISSN (print): 0022-1767

ISSN (electronic): 1550-6606

Publisher: American Association of Immunologists


DOI: 10.4049/​jimmunol.175.5.2938

PubMed id: 16116180


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