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J Biol Chem. 2011 Nov 4;286(44):37964-75. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.285312. Epub 2011 Sep 19.

Induction of lectin-like transcript 1 (LLT1) protein cell surface expression by pathogens and interferon-γ contributes to modulate immune responses.

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  • 1Institut de Pharmacologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique/Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis, UMR6097, 06560 Valbonne, France.


CD161 is a C-type lectin-like receptor expressed on human natural killer (NK) cells and subsets of T cells. CD161 has been described as an inhibitory receptor that regulates NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity and IFN-γ production. Its role on T cells has remained unclear. Studies have shown that triggering of CD161 enhances NK T cell proliferation and T cell-IFN-γ production while inhibiting TNF-α production by CD8(+) T cells. Lectin-like transcript 1 (LLT1), the ligand of CD161, was found to be expressed on Toll-like receptor (TLR)-activated plasmacytoid and monocyte-derived dendritic cells (DC) and on activated B cells. Using newly developed anti-LLT1 mAbs, we show that LLT1 is not expressed on the surface of circulating B and T lymphocytes, NK cells, monocytes, and dendritic cells but that LLT1 is up-regulated upon activation. Not only TLR-stimulated dendritic cells and B cells but also T cell receptor-activated T cells and activated NK cells up-regulate LLT1. Interestingly, IFN-γ increases LLT1 expression level on antigen-presenting cells. LLT1 is also induced on B cells upon viral infection such as Epstein-Barr virus or HIV infection and in inflamed tonsils. Finally, expression of LLT1 on B cells inhibits NK cell function but costimulates T cell proliferation or IFN-γ production, and coengagement of CD161 with CD3 increases IL-17 secretion. Altogether, our results point toward a role for LLT1/CD161 in modulating immune responses to pathogens.

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