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Immunity. 1997 Dec;7(6):739-51.

Functionally and structurally distinct NK cell receptor repertoires in the peripheral blood of two human donors.

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  • 1Department of Structural Biology, Stanford University School of Medicine, California 94305, USA.


The expression of KIR and CD94:NKG2 receptors was determined for more than 100 natural killer (NK) cell clones obtained from two blood donors who differ in their HLA class I and KIR genes. More than 98% of the clones were inhibited by individual autologous class I allotypes, and every clone was inhibited by the combination of autologous allotypes. The patterns of inhibition correlate with expression of inhibitory receptors of defined specificity. One donor possesses three class I ligands for KIR, and a majority of NK cells use KIR as their inhibitory receptor; the second donor possesses only a single ligand for KIR, and a majority of NK cells use the more broadly reactive CD94:NKG2a as their inhibitory receptor. Because of these differences, the first donor has subpopulations of NK cells that kill cells of the second donor, whereas the NK cells of the second donor are universally tolerant of cells from the first donor.

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