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J Exp Med. 2011 Dec 19;208(13):2717-31. doi: 10.1084/jem.20111386. Epub 2011 Nov 28.

miR-150 regulates the development of NK and iNKT cells.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology and the Cancer Research Institute, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


Natural killer (NK) and invariant NK T (iNKT) cells are critical in host defense against pathogens and for the initiation of adaptive immune responses. miRNAs play important roles in NK and iNKT cell development, maturation, and function, but the roles of specific miRNAs are unclear. We show that modulation of miR-150 expression levels has a differential effect on NK and iNKT cell development. Mice with a targeted deletion of miR-150 have an impaired, cell lineage-intrinsic defect in their ability to generate mature NK cells. Conversely, a gain-of-function miR-150 transgene promotes the development of NK cells, which display a more mature phenotype and are more responsive to activation. In contrast, overexpression of miR-150 results in a substantial reduction of iNKT cells in the thymus and in the peripheral lymphoid organs. The transcription factor c-Myb has been shown to be a direct target of miR-150. Our finding of increased NK cell and decreased iNKT cell frequencies in Myb heterozygous bone marrow chimeras suggests that miR-150 differentially controls the development of NK and iNKT cell lineages by targeting c-Myb.

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