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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 Jul 3;92(14):6484-8.

Inhibition of selective signaling events in natural killer cells recognizing major histocompatibility complex class I.

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Department of Immunology, Mayo Clinic and Foundation, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


Many studies have characterized the transmembrane signaling events initiated after T-cell antigen receptor recognition of major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-bound peptides. Yet, little is known about signal transduction from a set of MHC class I recognizing receptors on natural killer (NK) cells whose ligation dramatically inhibits NK cell-mediated killing. In this study we evaluated the influence of MHC recognition on the proximal signaling events in NK cells binding tumor targets. We utilized two experimental models where NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity was fully inhibited by the recognition of specific MHC class I molecules. NK cell binding to either class I-deficient or class I-transfected target cells initiated rapid protein tyrosine kinase activation. In contrast, whereas NK cell binding to class I-deficient targets led to inositol phosphate release and increased intracellular free calcium ([Ca2+]i), NK recognition of class I-bearing targets did not induce the activation of these phospholipase C-dependent signaling events. The recognition of class I by NK cells clearly had a negative regulatory effect since blocking this interaction using anti-class I F(ab')2 fragments increased inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate release and [Ca2+]i and increased the lysis of the targets. These results suggest that one of the mechanisms by which NK cell recognition of specific MHC class I molecules can block the development of cell-mediated cytotoxicity is by inhibiting specific critical signaling events.

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