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Cell Rep. 2013 Sep 26;4(6):1235-49. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2013.08.021. Epub 2013 Sep 19.

IL-15 cis presentation is required for optimal NK cell activation in lipopolysaccharide-mediated inflammatory conditions.

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Department of Biotechnology and Biosciences, University of Milano-Bicocca, Piazza della Scienza 2, 20126 Milan, Italy. Electronic address:


Natural killer (NK) cells have antitumor, antiviral, and antibacterial functions, and efforts are being made to manipulate them in immunotherapeutic approaches. However, their activation mechanisms remain poorly defined, particularly during bacterial infections. Here, we show that upon lipopolysaccharide or E. coli exposure, dendritic cells (DCs) produce three cytokines-interleukin 2 (IL-2), IL-18, and interferon β (IFN-β)-necessary and sufficient for NK cell activation. IFN-β enhances NK cell activation by inducing IL-15 and IL-15 receptor α not only in DCs but, surprisingly, also in NK cells. This process allows the transfer of IL-15 on NK cell surface and its cis presentation. cis-presented NK cell-derived and trans-presented DC-derived IL-15 contribute equally to optimal NK cell activation.

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