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J Immunol. 2002 Jan 1;168(1):95-101.

NK cell activation by dendritic cells is dependent on LFA-1-mediated induction of calcium-calmodulin kinase II: inhibition by HIV-1 Tat C-terminal domain.

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Laboratory of Immunology, National Institute for Cancer Research, Genoa, Italy.


In this study, we show that binding to autologous dendritic cells (DC) induces a calcium influx in NK cells, followed by activation of the calcium-calmodulin kinase II (CAMKII), release of perforin and granzymes, and IFN-gamma secretion. CAMKII is induced via LFA-1: indeed, oligomerization of LFA-1 leads to CAMKII induction in NK cells. Moreover, release of lytic enzymes and cytotoxic activity is strongly reduced by masking LFA-1 or by adding CAMKII inhibitors such as KN62 and KN93, at variance with the inactive compound KN92. NK cell-mediated lysis of DC and IFN-gamma release by NK cells upon NK/DC contact are inhibited by exogenous HIV-1 Tat: the protein blocks calcium influx and impairs CAMKII activation elicited via LFA-1 in NK cells, eventually inhibiting degranulation. Experiments performed with synthetic, overlapping Tat-derived peptides showed that the C-terminal domain of the protein is responsible for inhibition. Finally, both KN62 and Tat reduced the extension of NK/DC contacts, possibly affecting NK cell granule polarization toward the target. These data provide evidence that exogenous Tat inhibits NK cell activation occurring upon contact with DC: this mechanism might contribute to the impairment of natural immunity in HIV-1 infection.

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