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Int Immunopharmacol. 2013 Oct;17(2):260-6. doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2013.05.022. Epub 2013 Jun 22.

Fine tuning a well-oiled machine: Influence of NK1.1 and NKG2D on NKT cell development and function.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK 73104, USA.


Natural killer T cells (NKT) represent a group of CD1d-restricted T-lineage cells that provide a functional interface between innate and adaptive immune responses in infectious disease, cancer, allergy and autoimmunity. There have been remarkable advances in understanding the molecular events that underpin NKT development in the thymus and in the complex array of functions in the periphery. Most functional studies have focused on activation of T cell antigen receptors expressed by NKT cells and their responses to CD1d presentation of glycolipid and related antigens. Receiving less attention has been several molecules that are hallmarks of Natural Killer (NK) cells, but nonetheless expressed by NKT cells. These include several activating and inhibitory receptors that may fine-tune NKT development and survival, as well as activation via antigen receptors. Herein, we review the possible roles of the NK1.1 and NKG2D receptors in regulating development and function of NKT cells in health and disease. We suggest that pharmacological alteration of NKT activity should consider the potential complexities commensurate with NK1.1 and NKG2D expression.


Adaptive immunity; NK1.1; NKG2D; NKT cells; Pathogenesis

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