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Nat Rev Immunol. 2006 Jul;6(7):520-31.

Self-tolerance of natural killer cells.

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Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, Cancer Research Laboratory, 485 Life Science Addition, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.


Natural killer (NK) cells, similar to other lymphocytes, acquire tolerance to self. This means that NK cells have the potential to attack normal self cells but that there are mechanisms to ensure that this does not usually occur. Self-tolerance is acquired by NK cells during their development, but the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms remain poorly understood. Recent studies have produced important new information about NK-cell self-tolerance. Here, we review the evidence for and against possible mechanisms of NK-cell self-tolerance, with an emphasis on the role of MHC-specific receptors.

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