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Blood. 2004 Dec 1;104(12):3664-71. Epub 2004 Aug 10.

Imprint of human cytomegalovirus infection on the NK cell receptor repertoire.

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  • 1Molecular Immunopathology Unit, DCEXS, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain.


Expression of the activating CD94/NKG2C killer lectin-like receptor (KLR) specific for HLA-E was analyzed in peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs) from healthy adult blood donors; the expression of other natural killer (NK) cell receptors (ie, CD94/NKG2A, KIR, CD85j, CD161, NKp46, NKp30, and NKG2D) was also studied. Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection as well as the HLA-E and killer immunoglobulin-like receptor (KIR) genotypes were considered as potentially relevant variables associated with CD94/NKG2C expression. The proportion of NKG2C(+) lymphocytes varied within a wide range (<0.1% to 22.1%), and a significant correlation (r = 0.83; P < .001) between NKG2C(+) NK and T cells was noticed. The HLA-E genotype and the number of activating KIR genes of the donors were not significantly related to the percentage of NKG2C(+) lymphocytes. By contrast, a positive serology for HCMV, but not for other herpesviruses (ie, Epstein-Barr and herpes simplex), turned out to be strongly associated (P < .001) with increased proportions of NKG2C(+) NK and T cells. Remarkably, the CD94/NKG2C(+) population expressed lower levels of natural cytotoxicity receptors (NCRs) (ie, NKp30, NKp46) and included higher proportions of KIR(+) and CD85j(+) cells than CD94/NKG2A(+) cells. Altogether, these data support that HCMV infection selectively shapes the natural killer cell receptor (NKR) repertoire of NK and T cells from healthy carrier individuals.

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