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J Immunol. 2008 Aug 15;181(4):2368-81.

HLA class I molecules regulate IFN-gamma production induced in NK cells by target cells, viral products, or immature dendritic cells through the inhibitory receptor ILT2/CD85j.

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Research Unit, Hospital Universitario La Paz-Fundación para la Investigación Biomédica Hospital La Paz, Madrid, Spain.


Recent advances support an important role for NK cells in determining immune responses beyond their cytolytic functions, which is supported by their capacity to secrete several cytokines and chemokines. In particular, NK-derived IFN-gamma has proven to be fundamental in shaping adaptive immune responses. Although the role of inhibitory NK receptors (iNKR) in the regulation of cytotoxicity has been widely explored, their involvement in the control of cytokine production has been scarcely analyzed. Specifically, no data are available referring to the role of the iNKR ILT2/CD85j in the regulation of IFN-gamma secretion by NK cells. Published data support a differential regulation of cytotoxicity and cytokine expression. Thus, formal proof of the involvement of HLA class I in regulating the production of cytokines through binding to ILT2/CD85j has been missing. We have determined the response of human NK-92 and primary human ILT2/CD85j(+) NK cells from healthy donors to target cells expressing or not HLA class I. We found specificities of HLA class I-mediated inhibition of IFN-gamma mRNA expression, protein production, and secretion consistent with the specific recognition by ILT2/CD85j. We also found inhibition of IFN-gamma production by ILT2/CD85j(+) T cells in response to superantigen stimulation. Furthermore, ligation of ILT2/CD85j inhibited the production of IFN-gamma in response to poly(I:C), and blocking of ILT2/CD85j-HLA class I interactions increased the secretion of IFN-gamma in NK/immature dendritic cell cocultures. The data support a role for self HLA class I in the regulation of IFN-gamma secretion at the mRNA and protein levels by interacting with the iNKR ILT2/CD85j.

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