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J Immunol. 2005 Mar 1;174(5):2612-8.

Natural killer dendritic cells have both antigen presenting and lytic function and in response to CpG produce IFN-gamma via autocrine IL-12.

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  • 1Hepatobiliary Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10021, USA.


We have isolated rare cells bearing the NK cell surface marker NK1.1, as well as the dendritic cell (DC) marker CD11c, from the spleen, liver, lymph nodes, and thymus of normal mice. These cells possess both NK cell and DC function because they can lyse tumor cells and subsequently present Ags to naive Ag-specific T cells. Interestingly, in response to IL-4 plus either IL-2 or CpG, NKDC produce more IFN-gamma than do DC, or even NK cells. We determined that CpG, but not IL-2, induces NKDC to secrete IFN-gamma via the autocrine effects of IL-12. In vivo, CpG dramatically increases the number of NKDC. Furthermore, NKDC induce greater Ag-specific T cell activation than do DC after adoptive transfer. Their unique ability to lyse tumor cells, present Ags, and secrete inflammatory cytokines suggests that NKDC may play a crucial role in linking innate and adaptive immunity.

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