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Immunity. 2001 Feb;14(2):123-33.

ULBPs, novel MHC class I-related molecules, bind to CMV glycoprotein UL16 and stimulate NK cytotoxicity through the NKG2D receptor.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Immunex Corporation, 51 University Street, Seattle, WA 98101,


The human cytomegalovirus glycoprotein, UL16, binds to two members of a novel family of molecules, the ULBPs, and to the MHC class I homolog, MICB. The ULBPs are GPI-linked glycoproteins belonging to the extended MHC class I family but are only distantly related to MICB. The ULBP and MICB molecules are ligands for the activating receptor, NKG2D/DAP10, and this interaction is blocked by a soluble form of UL16. The ULBPs stimulate cytokine and chemokine production from NK cells, and expression of ULBPs in NK cell-resistant target cells confers susceptibility to NK cell cytotoxicity. Masking of NK cell recognition of ULBP or MIC antigens by UL16 provides a potential mechanism by which human cytomegalovirus-infected cells might evade attack by the immune system.

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