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J Innate Immun. 2011;3(3):227-35. doi: 10.1159/000324112. Epub 2011 Mar 22.

Vis-à-vis in the NKC: genetically linked natural killer cell receptor/ligand pairs in the natural killer gene complex (NKC).

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Institute for Molecular Medicine, Goethe University Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


The natural killer gene complex (NKC) encodes several dozens of C-type lectin-like receptors that, in various ways, tune the reactivity of NK cells and other cytotoxic lymphocytes depending on the cellular environment. Among these are C-type lectin-like receptors such as NKG2D, CD94/NKG2A and the murine Ly49 receptors that bind to cell surface glycoproteins of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I family and thereby facilitate detection of stressed cells or cells exhibiting aberrant MHC class I expression. In contrast, NKRP1 receptors including the prototypic NK1.1 do not engage ligands with an MHC class-I-like fold, but rather interact with the likewise C-type lectin-like CLEC2 glycoproteins. Notably, CLEC2 and NKRP1 molecules not only share the same fold, but are also genetically linked in the NKC. Recent research efforts began to systematically elucidate the expression and function of the numerous NKRP1 and CLEC2 family members in rodents and revealed previously unnoticed corresponding receptor/ligand pairs in humans. Here, we provide a snapshot of the current knowledge on receptors of the NKRP1 family and their genetically linked CLEC2 ligands in mouse and man.

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