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Science. 2001 May 4;292(5518):934-7.

Vital involvement of a natural killer cell activation receptor in resistance to viral infection.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Rheumatology Division, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


Natural killer (NK) cells are lymphocytes that can be distinguished from T and B cells through their involvement in innate immunity and their lack of rearranged antigen receptors. Although NK cells and their receptors were initially characterized in terms of tumor killing in vitro, we have determined that the NK cell activation receptor, Ly-49H, is critically involved in resistance to murine cytomegalovirus in vivo. Ly-49H requires an immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation motif (ITAM)-containing transmembrane molecule for expression and signal transduction. Thus, NK cells use receptors functionally resembling ITAM-coupled T and B cell antigen receptors to provide vital innate host defense.

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