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J Immunol. 2001 Feb 15;166(4):2487-94.

Regulation of inhibitory and activating killer-cell Ig-like receptor expression occurs in T cells after termination of TCR rearrangements.

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  • 1Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, Unité 463, Institut de Biologie, Nantes, France.


A small fraction of T cells expresses killer-cell Ig-like receptors (KIR), a family of MHC class I-specific receptors that can modulate TCR-dependent activation of effector functions. Although KIR(+) cells are enriched within Ag-experienced T cell subsets, the precise relationships between KIR(+) and KIR(-) T cells and the stage of KIR induction on these lymphocytes remain unclear. In this study, we compared KIR(-) and KIR(+) alphabeta T cell clones, sorted by means of the CD158b (KIR2DL2/KIR2DL3/KIR2DS2) specific mAb GL183. We isolated several pairs of CD158b(+) and CD158b(-) alphabeta T cell clones sharing identical productive and nonproductive TCR transcripts. We showed that expression of functional KIR on T cells is regulated after termination of TCR rearrangements. Transcriptional regulation of KIR genes was documented in multiple T cell clones generated from the same donor, and the presence of KIR transcripts was also detected in KIR(-) T cells. These results document a complex regulation of KIR expression in T cells at both pre and posttranscriptional levels, under the control of yet undefined signals provided in vivo.

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