Research ArticleNK CELLS

A discrete subset of epigenetically primed human NK cells mediates antigen-specific immune responses

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Science Immunology  16 Oct 2020:
Vol. 5, Issue 52, eaba6232
DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aba6232

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Liver NK cells with antigen specificity

Natural killer (NK) cells are heterogeneous innate effector cells, with some NK subsets displaying features of adaptive immunity including memory and antigen specificity. Because liver NK cells are enriched for adaptive NK cells, Stary et al. used RNA sequencing and flow cytometry of human liver NK cells to search for correlations between NK cell phenotypes and their capacity to carry out adaptive effector functions. A CD49a+ CD16 subset of liver NK cells distinct from conventional NK cells expressed a cytotoxicity-associated gene program and exhibited antigen-specific killing of autologous target cells pulsed with viral antigens or metal allergens. Identification of this human hepatic NK subset is an advance in the ongoing quest to understand the molecular basis for antigen-specific recognition by adaptive NK cells.

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