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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 May 11;107(19):8754-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0913126107. Epub 2010 Apr 26.

MHC class I D(k) expression in hematopoietic and nonhematopoietic cells confers natural killer cell resistance to murine cytomegalovirus.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Division of Nephrology, and Beirne Carter Center for Immunology Research, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA.


NK cell-mediated murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) resistance (Cmv(r)) is under H-2(k) control in MA/My mice, but the underlying gene(s) is unclear. Prior genetic analysis mapped Cmv(r) to the MHC class I (MHC-I) D(k) gene interval. Because NK cell receptors are licensed by and responsive to MHC class I molecules, D(k) itself is a candidate gene. A 10-kb genomic D(k) fragment was subcloned and microinjected into MCMV-susceptible (Cmv(s)) (MA/My.L-H2(b) x C57L)F(1) or (B6 x DBA/2)F(2) embryos. Transgenic founders, which are competent for D(k) expression and germline transgene transmission, were identified and further backcrossed to MA/My.L-H2(b) or C57L mice. Remarkably, D(k) expression delivered NK-mediated resistance in either genetic background. Further, NK cells with cognate inhibitory Ly49G receptors for self-MHC-I D(k) were licensed and critical in protection against MCMV infection. In radiation bone marrow chimeras, NK resistance was significantly diminished when MHC-I D(k) expression was restricted to only hematopoietic or nonhematopoietic cells. Thus, MHC-I D(k) is the H-2(k)-linked Cmv(r) locus; these findings suggest a role for NK cell interaction with D(k)-bearing hematopoietic and nonhematopoietic cells to shape NK-mediated virus immunity.

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