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J Immunol. 1987 Jun 1;138(11):3618-25.

Role of interleukin 2 (IL 2) and hemopoietin-1 (H-1) in the generation of mouse natural killer (NK) cells from primitive bone marrow precursors.


The development of natural killer (NK) cells from bone marrow (BM) precursors was studied. Recombinant interleukin 2 (IL 2) was able to induce the in vitro development of NK cells when added to cultures of mouse BM cells. Treatment of donor mice with 5-fluorouracil (150 mg/kg i.v.), which eliminates more differentiated cells but spares less differentiated cells, appears to augment NK cell development. The "NK stem cell" was found to be asialo GM1-, Thy-1+, Lyt-2-, and Lyt-1-. The cells generated in vitro had a typical phenotype of NK cells, being asialo GM1+, Lyt-5+, Thy-1+, Lyt-2-, and Lyt-1-. These effector cells also had specificity characteristics of NK cells lysing the NK-susceptible YAC-1 and K562 targets, but not the NK-resistant EL/4 or allogeneic and syngeneic blasts. Hemopoietin-1 (H-1), a factor which acts on very primitive multipotent BM cells, was able to cooperate with IL 2, increasing the development of NK cells. In contrast, other factors such as interleukin 3 or colony-stimulating factor did not cause induction of NK activity when added to cultures of BM cells, indicating that this effect, i.e., induction of NK cell development, is peculiar to IL 2. These results indicate that IL 2 can act as a differentiation as well as growth factor for NK cells, and that H-1 can promote the development of functional activity in a lymphocyte subpopulation as well as affect the differentiation of myelomonocytic and other cell lineages. This experimental system appears quite useful for characterization of BM precursors for NK cells, and should help to better understand the relationship of the NK cell lineage to the T cell or other lineages.

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