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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Jul 9;93(14):7178-83.

Direct binding of a soluble natural killer cell inhibitory receptor to a soluble human leukocyte antigen-Cw4 class I major histocompatibility complex molecule.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.


Natural killer (NK) cells expressing specific p58 NK receptors are inhibited from lysing target cells that express human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-C class I major histocompatibility complex molecules. To investigate the interaction between p58 NK receptors and HLA-Cw4, the extracellular domain of the p58 NK receptor specific for HLA-Cw4 was overexpressed in Escherichia coli and refolded from purified inclusion bodies. The refolded NK receptor is a monomer in solution. It interacts specifically with HLA-Cw4, blocking the binding of a p58-Ig fusion protein to HLA-Cw4-expressing cells, but does not block the binding of a p58-Ig fusion protein specific for HLA-Cw3 to HLA-Cw3-expressing cells. The bacterially expressed extracellular domain of HLA-Cw4 heavy chain and beta2-microglobulin were refolded in the presence of a HLA-Cw4-specific peptide. Direct binding between the soluble p58 NK receptor and the soluble HLA-Cw4-peptide complex was observed by native gel electrophoresis. Titration binding assays show that soluble monomeric receptor forms a 1:1 complex with HLA-Cw4, independent of the presence of Zn2+. The formation of complexes between soluble, recombinant molecules indicates that HLA-Cw4 is sufficient for specific ligation by the NK receptor and that neither glycoprotein requires carbohydrate for the interaction.

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