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Nat Immunol. 2003 Aug;4(8):801-7. Epub 2003 Jul 13.

Genetically linked C-type lectin-related ligands for the NKRP1 family of natural killer cell receptors.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Rheumatology Division, Department of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


The natural killer (NK) gene complex (NKC) encodes orphan lectin-like NK cell receptors that may explain uncharacterized NK cell specificities. Unlike other NKC-encoded receptors that recognize molecules with major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I folds, here we show that mouse Nkrp1d and Nkrp1f bind specific C-type lectin-related (Clr) molecules. Nkrp1d mediated inhibition when recognizing Clrb, a molecule expressed in dendritic cells and macrophages. Nkrp1 (official gene name, Klrb1) and Clr are intertwined in a genetically conserved NKC region showing recombination suppression, reminiscent of plant self-incompatibility loci. Thus, these findings broaden the 'missing-self' hypothesis from solely involving MHC class I to including related NK cell receptors for lectin-like ligands, and reflect genetic strategies for biological self-recognition processes in other species.

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