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Dev Comp Immunol. 2001 Oct-Dec;25(8-9):701-11.

The non-specific cytotoxic cell receptor (NCCRP-1): molecular organization and signaling properties.

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  • 1Department of Medical Microbiology and Parasitology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.


The evolutionary precursor to mammalian natural killer cells in teleost fish is called non-specific cytotoxic cells (NCC). NCC collaborate with other non-specific effector mechanisms to provide innate resistance during acute stress responses. The NCC receptor protein (NCCRP-1) contains 238 amino acid residues and is believed to be a type III membrane protein with three distinct functional domains. The antigen-binding domain has been mapped to amino acids nos. 104-119. The intracellular C-terminus contains a high concentration of potential phosphorylation sites (Y, S, T). Indeed, we have shown that activation of NCC by crosslinking of NCCRP-1 leads to receptor tyrosine and serine phosphorylation. The N-terminus of the molecule is also inside the cells and has as well signature amino acids, proline-rich motifs (PRM), that are indicative of functional relevance. The cytokine/hormone receptor-like PRMs are known docking sites for JAK kinases. We have evidence that following activation, NCCRP-1 comes in contact with JAK kinase and as a result of this interaction, STAT 6 is translocated into the nucleus. These results suggest that NCCRP-1 may play a dual role in the activation of NCC: first, as an antigen recognition molecule necessary for target cell lysis, and second, as an initiator of cytokine release from NCC. Both of these processes are required for a competent innate immune response.

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