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Eur J Immunol. 2004 Sep;34(9):2529-40.

High-density oligonucleotide array analysis reveals extensive differences between freshly isolated blood and hepatic natural killer cells.

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Laboratory for Cell Biology and Histology, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Brussels, Belgium.


Hepatic NK cells are more cytotoxic than blood NK cells against tumor cells. To understand the basis of this difference in cytotoxicity we analyzed RNA derived from freshly isolated rat blood and hepatic NK cells [high-density (HD) and low-density subpopulations] by high-density oligonucleotide arrays (Affymetrix), containing about 9,000 genes and expressed sequence tags. IL-2-treated blood NK (A-NK) cells and IL-2-treated hepatic HD cells were used as a reference of NK cell activation. About 150 genes and expressed sequence tags were differentially expressed between hepatic and blood NK cells. Surprisingly, more than half of the increased expressed genes in hepatic NK cells were not increased in A-NK cells. Differentially expressed genes like the stem cell factor receptor c-kit and the chemokine receptor CCR5 can contribute to the homing and differentiation of hepatic NK cells in the liver sinusoids. Several of the differentially expressed genes can possibly contribute to the enhanced cytotoxic activity of hepatic NK cells: cell membrane receptors like NKG2D, NKG2C, CD94, ecto-ATPase; signaling molecules like phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase; granule-associated effector molecules like granzymes and defensin NP3. Moreover, it appears that redirection of cytotoxic granules and increase in intracellular Ca2+ are convergence points of several of these genes.

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