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J Virol. 2008 May;82(10):4785-92. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02449-07. Epub 2008 Feb 27.

Conferral of enhanced natural killer cell function by KIR3DS1 in early human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection.

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  • 1Division of Experimental Medicine, Department of Medicine, San Francisco General Hospital, University of California, San Francisco, USA.


A flurry of recent reports on the role of activating and inhibitory forms of the killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) in natural killer (NK) cell activity against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) have yielded widely divergent results. The role of the activating NK receptor encoded by the KIR3DS1 allele and its putative ligands, members of the HLA class I Bw4Ile80 cluster, in early HIV-1 disease is controversial. We selected 60 treatment-naïve adults for study from the OPTIONS cohort of individuals with early HIV-1 infection in San Francisco. We performed NK cell functional assays measuring gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) and CD107a expression by NK cells in the unstimulated state and after stimulation by the major histocompatibility complex class I-deficient 721.221 B-lymphoblastoid cell line. In addition, we measured CD38 expression (a T-cell activation marker) on T and NK cells. Persons who have at least one copy of the KIR3DS1 gene had higher IFN-gamma and CD107a expression in the unstimulated state compared to those who do not possess this gene. After stimulation, both groups experienced a large induction of IFN-gamma and CD107a, with KIR3DS1 carriers achieving a greater amount of IFN-gamma expression. Differences in effector activity correlating with KIR3DS1 were not attributable to joint carriage of HLA Bw4Ile80 and KIR3DS1. We detected a partial but not complete dependence of KIR3DS1 on the members of B*58 supertype (B*57 and B*58) leading to higher NK cell function. Possessing KIR3DS1 was associated with lower expression of CD38 on both CD8(+) T and NK cells and with a loss or weakening of the known strong associations between CD8(+) T-cell expression of CD38 mean fluorescence intensity and the HIV-1 viral load. We observed that possessing KIR3DS1 was associated with higher NK cell effector functions in early HIV-1 disease, despite the absence of HLA Bw4Ile80, a putative ligand of KIR3DS1. Carriage of KIR3DS1 was associated with diminished CD8(+) T-cell activation, as determined by expression of CD38, and a disruption of the traditional relationship between viral load and activation in HIV-1 disease, which may lead to better clinical outcomes for these individuals.

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