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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Oct 25;102(43):15563-8. Epub 2005 Oct 17.

Human decidual NK cells form immature activating synapses and are not cytotoxic.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.


In early pregnancy invading fetal trophoblasts encounter abundant maternal decidual natural killer cells (dNK). dNK express perforin, granzymes A and B and the activating receptors NKp30, NKp44, NKp46, NKG2D, and 2B4 as well as LFA-1. Even though they are granular and express the essential molecules required for lysis, fresh dNK displayed very reduced lytic activity on classical MHC I negative targets K562 and 721.221, approximately 15% of that of peripheral NK cells. dNK formed conjugates and activating immune synapses with 721.221 and K562 cells in which CD2, LFA-1 and actin were polarized toward the contact site. However, in contrast to peripheral NK cells, they failed to polarize their microtubule organizing centers and perforin-containing granules to the synapse, accounting for their lack of cytotoxicity.

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