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Semin Immunol. 2008 Dec;20(6):311-6. doi: 10.1016/j.smim.2008.10.002.

The genetic and evolutionary balances in human NK cell receptor diversity.

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  • 1Department of Structural Biology, Stanford University School of Medicine, 299 Campus Drive West, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. peropa@stanford.edu


In primates and cattle two ancient killer-cell immunoglobulin-like receptor (KIR) lineages independently evolved to become diverse NK cell receptors. In mice, KIR genes were sidelined to the X chromosome, a possible consequence of pathogen-mediated selection on the receptor for IgA-Fc. In humans, KIR uniquely form two omnipresent haplotype groups (A and B), postulated here to play complementary and necessary roles in immune defense and reproduction. The basis of KIR3DL1/S1 polymorphism is three ancient lineages maintained by long-term balancing selection and present in all human populations. Conserved and variable NK cell receptors produce structurally diverse NK cell receptor repertoires within a defined range of missing-self-response.

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