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Blood. 2012 May 10;119(19):4349-57. doi: 10.1182/blood-2011-11-395954. Epub 2012 Feb 21.

Redefining interferon-producing killer dendritic cells as a novel intermediate in NK-cell differentiation.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Montreal, and Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital Research Center, Montreal, QC.


The cell lineage origin of IFN-producing killer dendritic cells (IKDCs), which exhibit prominent antitumoral activity, has been subject to debate. Although IKDCs were first described as a cell type exhibiting both plasmacytoid DC and natural killer (NK) cell properties, the current view reflects that IKDCs merely represent activated NK cells expressing B220, which were thus renamed B220+ NK cells. Herein, we further investigate the lineage relation of B220+ NK cells with regard to other NK-cell subsets. We surprisingly find that, after adoptive transfer, B220- NK cells did not acquire B220 expression, even in the presence of potent activating stimuli. These findings strongly argue against the concept that B220+ NK cells are activated NK cells. Moreover, we unequivocally show that B220+ NK cells are highly proliferative and differentiate into mature NK cells after in vivo adoptive transfer. Additional phenotypic, functional, and transcriptional characterizations further define B220+ NK cells as immediate precursors to mature NK cells. The characterization of these novel attributes to B220+ NK cells will guide the identification of their ortholog in humans, contributing to the design of potent cancer immunotherapies.

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