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PLoS Pathog. 2011 Jan 13;7(1):e1001254. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1001254.

Salivary gland NK cells are phenotypically and functionally unique.

Author information

1
Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology and Graduate Program in Pathobiology, Division of Biology and Medicine, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA.

Abstract

Natural killer (NK) cells and CD8(+) T cells play vital roles in containing and eliminating systemic cytomegalovirus (CMV). However, CMV has a tropism for the salivary gland acinar epithelial cells and persists in this organ for several weeks after primary infection. Here we characterize a distinct NK cell population that resides in the salivary gland, uncommon to any described to date, expressing both mature and immature NK cell markers. Using RORγt reporter mice and nude mice, we also show that the salivary gland NK cells are not lymphoid tissue inducer NK-like cells and are not thymic derived. During the course of murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) infection, we found that salivary gland NK cells detect the infection and acquire activation markers, but have limited capacity to produce IFN-γ and degranulate. Salivary gland NK cell effector functions are not regulated by iNKT or T(reg) cells, which are mostly absent in the salivary gland. Additionally, we demonstrate that peripheral NK cells are not recruited to this organ even after the systemic infection has been controlled. Altogether, these results indicate that viral persistence and latency in the salivary glands may be due in part to the presence of unfit NK cells and the lack of recruitment of peripheral NK cells.

PMID:
21249177
PMCID:
PMC3020929
DOI:
10.1371/journal.ppat.1001254
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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