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Journal Articles Blood Advances Year : 2021

Activation Status Dictates the Function of Unlicensed Natural Killer Cells


Natural Killer (NK) cells are involved in innate defense against viral infection and cancer. NK cells can be divided into subsets based on the ability of different receptors to bind to major histocompatibility (MHC) class I molecules resulting in differential responses upon activation in a process called "licensing" or "arming". NK cells expressing receptors that bind self-MHC are considered licensed due to augmented effector lytic function capability compared to unlicensed subsets. However, we demonstrated unlicensed NK subsets instead positively regulate the adaptive T cell response during viral infections due to localization and cytokine production. We demonstrate here that the differential effects of the two types of NK subsets is contingent on the environment using viral infection and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) models. Infection of mice with high-dose (HD) MCMV leads to a loss of licensing-associated differences as compared to mice with low-dose infection, as the unlicensed NK subset no longer localized in lymph nodes (LN), but instead remained at the site of infection. Similarly, the patterns observed during HD infection paralleled with the phenotypes of both human and mouse NK cells in a HSCT setting where NK cells exhibit an activated phenotype. However, in contrast to effects of subset depletion in T-replete models, the licensed NK cell subsets still dominated anti-viral responses post-HSCT. Overall, our results highlight the intricate tuning of the NK cells and how it impacts overall immune responses with regard to licensing patterns, as it is dependent on the level of stimulation and their activation status.
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Dates and versions

inserm-03346742 , version 1 (16-09-2021)



Ethan Aguilar, Cordelia Dunai, Sean J Judge, Anthony Elston Zamora, Lam T Khuat, et al.. Activation Status Dictates the Function of Unlicensed Natural Killer Cells. Blood Advances, 2021, pp.bloodadvances.2021004589. ⟨10.1182/bloodadvances.2021004589⟩. ⟨inserm-03346742⟩
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