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J Immunol. 2014 Jan 15;192(2):732-40. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1301748. Epub 2013 Dec 11.

Killer Ig-like receptor 2DL4 does not mediate NK cell IFN-γ responses to soluble HLA-G preparations.

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Department of Clinical Immunology, Royal Perth Hospital, Perth, Western Australia 6000, Australia;


The MHC class Ib molecule HLA-G has previously been reported to be the ligand for the NK cell receptor killer Ig-like receptor (KIR)2DL4, but this remains controversial. In this study, we investigated IFN-γ production by freshly isolated NK cells in response to both soluble and solid-phase ligands, including anti-KIR2DL4 mAbs and rHLA-G. Although freshly isolated CD56(bright) NK cells produced IFN-γ in response to soluble HLA-G preparations, the response was found to be absolutely dependent on the presence of small numbers of contaminating CD56(-), CD14(-), CD11c(+) myeloid dendritic cells (mDCs). HLA-G tetramers bound only to the contaminating mDCs in the NK preparations, and Abs to KIR2DL4 and HLA-G did not block NK cell IFN-γ production. NK cells did not respond to plate-bound HLA-G. Freshly isolated NK cells also produced IFN-γ in response to unpurified soluble anti-KIR2DL4 mAb but not to low endotoxin affinity-purified Ab. The data suggest that previous reports of functional interactions between KIR2DL4 and HLA-G may have resulted from the use of purified NK cells that were contaminated with mDCs and HLA-G preparations that were contaminated with material capable of stimulating mDCs to produce cytokines that stimulate NK cells to produce IFN-γ.

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