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Traffic. 2009 Dec;10(12):1735-44. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0854.2009.00973.x. Epub 2009 Aug 5.

Endocytosis and intracellular trafficking of human natural killer cell receptors.

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  • 1The Jaffe Food Allergy Institute, Department of Pediatrics, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, One Gustave L Levy Place, New York, NY 10029, USA.


Natural killer (NK) cells play a vital role in the defense against viral infections and tumor development. NK cell function is primarily regulated by the sum of signals from a broad array of activation and inhibitory receptors. Key to generating the input level of either activating or inhibitory signals is the maintenance of receptor expression levels on the cell surface. Although the mechanisms of endocytosis and trafficking for some cell surface receptors, such as transferrin receptor and certain immune receptors, are very well known, that is not the situation for receptors expressed by NK cells. Recent studies have uncovered that endocytosis and trafficking routes characteristic for specific activation and inhibitory receptors can regulate the functional responses of NK cells. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge of receptor endocytosis and trafficking, and integrate this with our current understanding of NK cell receptor trafficking.

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