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J Immunol. 2001 Mar 15;166(6):3923-32.

The repertoire of killer cell Ig-like receptor and CD94:NKG2A receptors in T cells: clones sharing identical alpha beta TCR rearrangement express highly diverse killer cell Ig-like receptor patterns.

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


Killer cell Ig-like receptor (KIR) and CD94:NKG2A molecules were first defined as human NK cell receptors (NKR), but now are known to be expressed and to function on subpopulations of T cells. Here the repertoires of KIR and CD94:NKG2A expression by T cells from two donors were examined and compared with their previously defined NK cell repertoires. T cell clones generated from peripheral blood of both donors expressed multiple NKR in different combinations and used the range of receptors expressed by NK cells. In both donors alpha beta T cells less frequently expressed the inhibitory receptors CD94:NKG2A and KIR2DL1 than either gamma delta T cells or NK cells. In contrast to NK cells, not all NKR(+) T cells expressed an inhibitory receptor for autologous HLA class I. This lack of specific inhibitory NKR was especially apparent on alpha beta T cells of one donor. Overall, alpha beta T cells exhibited a distinct pattern of NKR expression different from that of gamma delta T and NK cells, which expressed highly similar NKR repertoires. In one donor, analysis of TCR rearrangement revealed a dominant subset of NKR(+) T cells sharing identical TCR alpha- and beta-chains. Remarkably, among 55 T cell clones sharing the same TCR alpha beta rearrangement 18 different KIR phenotypes were seen, suggesting that KIR expression was initiated subsequently to TCR rearrangement.

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