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J Immunol. 2018 Nov 1;201(9):2776-2786. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1800494. Epub 2018 Sep 19.

Diversification of Bw4 Specificity and Recognition of a Nonclassical MHC Class I Molecule Implicated in Maternal-Fetal Tolerance by Killer Cell Ig-like Receptors of the Rhesus Macaque.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53705.
Wisconsin National Primate Research Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53715.
Department of Comparative Biosciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706; and.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53705.
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53705;


The rhesus macaque is an important animal model for AIDS and other infectious diseases; however, studies to address NK cell function in this species have been limited by the lack of defined ligands for killer cell Ig-like receptors (KIRs). To identify ligands for rhesus macaque KIRs, we adopted a novel approach based on a pair of stable cell lines. NFAT-responsive luciferase reporter cell lines expressing the extracellular domains of macaque KIRs fused to the transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains of CD28 and CD3ζ were incubated with target cells expressing individual MHC class I molecules, and ligand recognition was detected by the MHC class I-dependent upregulation of luciferase. Using this approach, we found that Mamu-KIR3DL01, -KIR3DL06, -KIR3DL08, and -KIR3DSw08 all recognize Mamu-Bw4 molecules but with differing allotype specificity. In contrast, Mamu-KIR3DL05 recognizes Mamu-A and Mamu-A-related molecules, including Mamu-A1*002 and -A3*13, Mamu-B*036, the product of a recombinant Mamu-B allele with α1 and α2 domain sequences derived from a MHC-A gene, and Mamu-AG*01, a nonclassical molecule expressed on placental trophoblasts that originated from an ancestral duplication of a MHC-A gene. These results reveal an expansion of the lineage II KIRs in macaques that recognize Bw4 ligands and identify a nonclassical molecule implicated in placental development and pregnancy as a ligand for Mamu-KIR3DL05. In addition to offering new insights into KIR-MHC class I coevolution, these findings provide an important foundation for investigating the role of NK cells in the rhesus macaque as an animal model for infectious diseases and reproductive biology.


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