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Immunol Rev. 2001 Jun;181:5-19.

The centromeric part of the human natural killer (NK) receptor complex: lectin-like receptor genes expressed in NK, dendritic and endothelial cells.

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Department of Vascular Biology and Thrombosis Research, Vienna International Research Cooperation Center, University of Vienna, Austria.


The human natural killer (NK) receptor complex encompasses a region of about 2 Mb on the short arm of chromosome 12. It contains at least 18 lectin-like receptor genes, of which some are expressed in NK and NK/T cells and function as NK receptors. Close to the CD94 and NKG2 NK receptor genes in the centromeric part, a novel family of genes, expressed in myeloid, dendritic and/or endothelial cells, recently became evident. These genes encode a receptor for oxidized low density lipoprotein in endothelial cells and three other receptors potentially serving regulatory functions in dendritic cells. Although the overall structure of the human NK receptor complex is similar to the syntenic rodent regions, the centromeric part lacks the cluster of Ly49 genes. This supports the notion that recognition of MHC class Ia molecules has evolved separately in rodents and humans in the lectin-like Ly49 and the killer immunoglobulin-like receptors, respectively. In the telomeric part, other lectin-like genes expressed in different hematopoietic lineages are found. The receptors of the NK receptor complex apparently serve important functions in several leukocytes and in endothelial cells, and the exact role of these receptors, their ligands, and their distinct and co-ordinate regulation in different cell lineages warrants further investigation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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