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Immunol Res. 2008;40(3):193-207. doi: 10.1007/s12026-007-8006-9.

Extrinsic and intrinsic regulation of early natural killer cell development.

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Committees on Immunology, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Natural killer (NK) cells are lymphocytes that play a critical role in both adaptive and innate immune responses. These cells develop from multipotent progenitors in the embryonic thymus and neonatal or adult bone marrow and recent evidence suggests that a subset of these cells may develop in the thymus. Thymus- and bone marrow-derived NK cells have unique phenotypes and functional abilities supporting the hypothesis that the microenvironment dictates the outcome of NK cell development. A detailed understanding of the mechanisms controlling this developmental program will be required to determine how alterations in NK cell development lead to disease and to determine how to harness this developmental program for therapeutic purposes. In this review, we discuss some of the known extrinsic stromal-cell derived factors and cell intrinsic transcription factors that function in guiding NK cell development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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