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J Immunol. 2007 Jan 1;178(1):235-41.

Functional polymorphism of the KIR3DL1/S1 receptor on human NK cells.

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  • 1School of Biochemistry and Immunology, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.


NK cells express both inhibitory and activatory receptors that allow them to recognize target cells through HLA class I Ag expression. KIR3DL1 is a receptor that recognizes the HLA-Bw4 public epitope of HLA-B alleles. We demonstrate that polymorphism within the KIR3DL1 receptor has functional consequences in terms of NK cell recognition of target. Inhibitory alleles of KIR3DL1 differ in their ability to recognize HLA-Bw4 ligand, and a consistent hierarchy of ligand reactivity can be defined. KIR3DS1, which segregates as an allele of KIR3DL1, has a short cytoplasmic tail characteristic of activatory receptors. Because it is very similar to KIR3DL1 in the extracellular domains, it has been assumed that KIR3DS1 will recognize a HLA-Bw4 ligand. In this study, we demonstrate that KIR3DS1 is expressed as a protein at the cell surface of NK cells, where it is recognized by the Z27 Ab. Using this Ab, we found that KIR3DS1 is expressed on a higher percentage of NK cells in KIR3DS1 homozygous compared with heterozygous donors. In contrast to the inhibitory KIR3DL1 allotypes, KIR3DS1 did not recognize HLA-Bw4 on EBV-transformed cell lines.

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