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J Immunol. 2005 Mar 1;174(5):2702-11.

Two structurally related rat Ly49 receptors with opposing functions (Ly49 stimulatory receptor 5 and Ly49 inhibitory receptor 5) recognize nonclassical MHC class Ib-encoded target ligands.

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Institute of Immunology, Rikshospitalet University Hospital, University of Oslo, Rikshospitalet, Oslo, Norway.


The Ly49 family of lectin-like receptors in rodents includes both stimulatory and inhibitory members. Although NK alloreactivity in mice is regulated primarily by inhibitory Ly49 receptors, in rats activating Ly49 receptors are equally important. Previous studies have suggested that activating rat Ly49 receptors are triggered by polymorphic ligands encoded within the nonclassical class Ib region of the rat MHC, RT1-CE/N/M, while inhibitory Ly49 receptors bind to widely expressed classical class Ia molecules encoded from the RT1-A region. To further investigate rat Ly49-mediated regulation of NK alloreactivity, we report in this study the identification and characterization of two novel paired Ly49 receptors that we have termed Ly49 inhibitory receptor 5 (Ly49i5) and Ly49 stimulatory receptor 5 (Ly49s5). Using a new mAb (mAb Fly5), we showed that Ly49i5 is an inhibitory receptor that recognizes ligands encoded within the class Ib region of the u and l haplotypes, while the structurally related Ly49s5 is an activating receptor that recognizes class Ib ligands of the u haplotype. Ly49s5 is functionally expressed in the high NK-alloresponder PVG strain, but not in the low alloresponder BN strain, in which it is a pseudogene. Ly49s5 is hence not responsible for the striking anti-u NK alloresponse previously described in BN rats (haplotype n), which results from repeated alloimmunizations with u haplotype cells. The present studies support the notion of a complex regulation of rat NK alloreactivity by activating and inhibitory Ly49 members, which may be highly homologous in the extracellular region and bind similar class Ib-encoded target ligands.

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