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Nat Rev Immunol. 2001 Oct;1(1):41-9.

Natural killer cells, viruses and cancer.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology and the Cancer Research Institute, University of California, San Francisco, 94143-0414, USA.


Natural killer cells are innate immune cells that control certain microbial infections and tumours. The function of natural killer cells is regulated by a balance between signals transmitted by activating receptors, which recognize ligands on tumours and virus-infected cells, and inhibitory receptors specific for major histocompatibility complex class I molecules. Here, we review the emerging evidence that natural killer cells have an important role in vivo in immune defence.

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