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Immunol Rev. 2008 Aug;224:70-84. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-065X.2008.00660.x.

Negative signaling by inhibitory receptors: the NK cell paradigm.

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Laboratory of Immunogenetics, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Rockville, MD 20852, USA.


Receptors carrying immunoreceptor tyrosine-based inhibition motifs (ITIMs) in their cytoplasmic tail control a vast array of cellular responses, ranging from autoimmunity, allergy, phagocytosis of red blood cells, graft versus host disease, to even neuronal plasticity in the brain. The inhibitory function of many receptors has been deduced on the basis of cytoplasmic ITIM sequences. Tight regulation of natural killer (NK) cell cytotoxicity and cytokine production by inhibitory receptors specific for major histocompatibility complex class I molecules has served as a model system to study the negative signaling pathway triggered by an ITIM-containing receptor in the physiological context of NK-target cell interactions. Advances in our understanding of the molecular details of inhibitory signaling in NK cells have provided a conceptual framework to address how ITIM-mediated regulation controls cellular reactivity in diverse cell types.

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