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J Immunol. 2012 Aug 1;189(3):1418-30. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1100431. Epub 2012 Jul 6.

Mutation at positively selected positions in the binding site for HLA-C shows that KIR2DL1 is a more refined but less adaptable NK cell receptor than KIR2DL3.

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  • 1Department of Structural Biology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.

Abstract

Through recognition of HLA class I, killer cell Ig-like receptors (KIR) modulate NK cell functions in human immunity and reproduction. Although a minority of HLA-A and -B allotypes are KIR ligands, HLA-C allotypes dominate this regulation, because they all carry either the C1 epitope recognized by KIR2DL2/3 or the C2 epitope recognized by KIR2DL1. The C1 epitope and C1-specific KIR evolved first, followed several million years later by the C2 epitope and C2-specific KIR. Strong, varying selection pressure on NK cell functions drove the diversification and divergence of hominid KIR, with six positions in the HLA class I binding site of KIR being targets for positive diversifying selection. Introducing each naturally occurring residue at these positions into KIR2DL1 and KIR2DL3 produced 38 point mutants that were tested for binding to 95 HLA- A, -B, and -C allotypes. Modulating specificity for HLA-C is position 44, whereas positions 71 and 131 control cross-reactivity with HLA-A*11:02. Dominating avidity modulation is position 70, with lesser contributions from positions 68 and 182. KIR2DL3 has lower avidity and broader specificity than KIR2DL1. Mutation could increase the avidity and change the specificity of KIR2DL3, whereas KIR2DL1 specificity was resistant to mutation, and its avidity could only be lowered. The contrasting inflexibility of KIR2DL1 and adaptability of KIR2DL3 fit with C2-specific KIR having evolved from C1-specific KIR, and not vice versa. Substitutions restricted to activating KIR all reduced the avidity of KIR2DL1 and KIR2DL3, further evidence that activating KIR function often becomes subject to selective attenuation.

PMID:
22772445
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3439511
Free PMC Article

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