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Blood. 2013 Apr 4;121(14):2627-37. doi: 10.1182/blood-2012-06-437012. Epub 2013 Feb 4.

Rapid activation receptor- or IL-2-induced lytic granule convergence in human natural killer cells requires Src, but not downstream signaling.

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Graduate Program in Cell Biology and Physiology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA.


Natural killer (NK) cells participate in host defense by surveying for and ultimately killing virally infected or malignant target cells. NK cell cytotoxicity is a tightly regulated process that proceeds stepwise from adhesion and activation to the secretion of preformed lytic granule contents onto a diseased or stressed cell. We previously characterized rapid dynein-dependent lytic granule convergence to the microtubule-organizing center (MTOC) as an early, prerequisite step in NK cell cytotoxicity. Although multiple activating receptors can trigger granule convergence, the specific signal or signals responsible remained unknown. Using live cell confocal microscopy, NK cell lytic granule movement after NK cell activation was captured and measured. Using inhibitors of common early signaling mediators, we show that Src kinases are required for lytic granule convergence, but downstream signals that promote actin rearrangement, MTOC polarization, and calcium mobilization are not. Exposure to interleukin 2 was also sufficient to induce lytic granule convergence, which required noncanonical Src-dependent signaling. Thus, NK cell lytic granule convergence, prompted by specific receptor-mediated and soluble cytokine signals, depends on a directly downstream early Src kinase-dependent signal and emphasizes the importance of this step in readying NK cells for cytotoxicity.

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