Impaired natural killer cell self-education and "missing-self" responses in Ly49-deficient mice.
ABSTRACT: Ly49-mediated recognition of MHC-I molecules on host cells is considered vital for natural killer (NK)-cell regulation and education; however, gene-deficient animal models are lacking because of the difficulty in deleting this large multigene family. Here, we describe NK gene complex knockdown (NKC(KD)) mice that lack expression of Ly49 and related MHC-I receptors on most NK cells. NKC(KD) NK cells exhibit defective killing of MHC-I-deficient, but otherwise normal, target cells, resulting in defective rejection by NKC(KD) mice of transplants from various types of MHC-I-deficient mice. Self-MHC-I immunosurveillance by NK cells in NKC(KD) mice can be rescued by self-MHC-I-specific Ly49 transgenes. Although NKC(KD) mice display defective recognition of MHC-I-deficient tumor cells, resulting in decreased in vivo tumor cell clearance, NKG2D- or antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity-induced tumor cell cytotoxicity and cytokine production induced by activation receptors was efficient in Ly49-deficient NK cells, suggesting MHC-I education of NK cells is a single facet regulating their total potential. These results provide direct genetic evidence that Ly49 expression is necessary for NK-cell education to self-MHC-I molecules and that the absence of these receptors leads to loss of MHC-I-dependent "missing-self" immunosurveillance by NK cells.
Project description:Mice lacking MHC class-I (MHC-I) display severe defects in natural killer (NK) cell functional maturation, a process designated as "education". Whether self-MHC-I specific Ly49 family receptors and NKG2A, which are closely linked within the NK gene complex (NKC) locus, are essential for NK cell education is still unclear. Here we show, using CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene deletion, that mice lacking all members of the Ly49 family exhibit a moderate defect in NK cell activity, while mice lacking only two inhibitory Ly49 members, Ly49C and Ly49I, have comparable phenotypes. Furthermore, the deficiency of NKG2A, which recognizes non-classical MHC-Ib molecules, mildly impairs NK cell function. Notably, the combined deletion of NKG2A and the Ly49 family severely compromises the ability of NK cells to mediate "missing-self" and "induced-self" recognition. Therefore, our data provide genetic evidence supporting that NKG2A and the inhibitory members of Ly49 family receptors synergize to regulate NK cell education.
Project description:The immune response to influenza virus infection comprises both innate and adaptive defenses. NK cells play an early role in the destruction of tumors and virally-infected cells. NK cells express a variety of inhibitory receptors, including those of the Ly49 family, which are functional homologs of human killer-cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR). Like human KIR, Ly49 receptors inhibit NK cell-mediated lysis by binding to major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I) molecules that are expressed on normal cells. During NK cell maturation, the interaction of NK cell inhibitory Ly49 receptors with their MHC-I ligands results in two types of NK cells: licensed ("functional"), or unlicensed ("hypofunctional"). Despite being completely dysfunctional with regard to rejecting MHC-I-deficient cells, unlicensed NK cells represent up to half of the mature NK cell pool in rodents and humans, suggesting an alternative role for these cells in host defense. Here, we demonstrate that after influenza infection, MHC-I expression on lung epithelial cells is upregulated, and mice bearing unlicensed NK cells (Ly49-deficient NKCKD and MHC-I-deficient B2m-/- mice) survive the infection better than WT mice. Importantly, transgenic expression of an inhibitory self-MHC-I-specific Ly49 receptor in NKCKD mice restores WT influenza susceptibility, confirming a direct role for Ly49. Conversely, F(ab')2-mediated blockade of self-MHC-I-specific Ly49 inhibitory receptors protects WT mice from influenza virus infection. Mechanistically, perforin-deficient NKCKD mice succumb to influenza infection rapidly, indicating that direct cytotoxicity is necessary for unlicensed NK cell-mediated protection. Our findings demonstrate that Ly49:MHC-I interactions play a critical role in influenza virus pathogenesis. We suggest a similar role may be conserved in human KIR, and their blockade may be protective in humans.
Project description:The natural killer (NK) gene complex (NKC) encodes numerous C-type lectin-like receptors that govern the activity of NK cells. Although some of these receptors (Ly49s, NKG2D, CD94/NKG2A) recognize MHC or MHC-like molecules, others (Nkrp1, NKRP1A, NKp80, NKp65) instead bind C-type lectin-like ligands to which they are genetically linked in the NKC. To understand the basis for this recognition, we determined the structure of human NKp65, an activating receptor implicated in the immunosurveillance of skin, bound to its NKC-encoded ligand keratinocyte-associated C-type lectin (KACL). Whereas KACL forms a homodimer resembling other C-type lectin-like dimers, NKp65 is monomeric. The binding mode in the NKp65-KACL complex, in which a monomeric receptor engages a dimeric ligand, is completely distinct from those used by Ly49s, NKG2D, or CD94/NKG2A. The structure explains the exceptionally high affinity of the NKp65-KACL interaction compared with other cell-cell interaction pairs (KD = 6.7 × 10(-10) M), which may compensate for the monomeric nature of NKp65 to achieve cell activation. This previously unreported structure of an NKC-encoded receptor-ligand complex, coupled with mutational analysis of the interface, establishes a docking template that is directly applicable to other genetically linked pairs in the NKC, including Nkrp1-Clr, NKRP1A-LLT1, and NKp80-AICL.
Project description:In humans, specific patterns of killer immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs) expressed by uterine natural killer (uNK) cells are linked through HLA-C with pregnancy complications (infertility, recurrent spontaneous abortion, intrauterine growth restriction and preeclampsia). To identify mechanisms underpinning the associations between NK cell activation and pregnancy success, pregnancies were studied in mice with genetic knockdown (KD) of the MHC-activated Ly49 receptor gene family. B6.Ly49(KD) pregnancies were compared to normal control B6.Ly49(129) and C57BL/6 (B6) pregnancies. At mid-pregnancy (gestation day (gd9.5)), overall uNK cell (TCR?(-)CD122(+)DBA(+)DX5(-) (DBA(+)DX5(-))) and TCR?(-)CD122(+)DBA(-)DX5(+) (DBA(-)DX5(+))) frequencies in pregnant uterus were similar between genotypes. Ly49(KD) lowered the normal frequencies of Ly49(+) uNK cells from 90.3% to 47.8% in DBA(-)DX5(+) and 78.8% to 6.3% in DBA(+)DX5(-) uNK cell subtypes. B6.Ly49(KD) matings frequently resulted in expanded blastocysts that did not implant (subfertility). B6.Ly49(KD) mice that established pregnancy had gestational lengths and litter sizes similar to controls. B6.Ly49(KD) neonates, however, were heavier than controls. B6.Ly49(KD) implantation sites lagged in early (gd6.5) decidual angiogenesis and were deficient in mid-pregnancy (gd10.5) spiral arterial remodelling. Ultrastructural analyses revealed that B6.Ly49(KD) uNK cells had impaired granulogenesis, while immunocytochemistry revealed deficient vascular endothelial cell growth factor (VEGFA) production. Perforin and IFNG expression were normal in B6.Ly49(KD) uNK cells. Thus, in normal mouse pregnancies, Ly49 receptor signaling must promote implantation, early decidual angiogenesis and mid-pregnancy vascular remodelling. Disturbances in these functions may underlie the reported genetic associations between human pregnancy complications and the inability of specific conceptus MHCs to engage activating KIR on uNK cells.
Project description:Mouse natural killer (NK) cells acquire effector function by an education process termed "licensing" mediated by inhibitory Ly49 receptors which recognize self-MHC class I. Ly49 receptors can bind to MHC class I on targets (in trans) and also to MHC class I on the NK-cell surface (in cis). Which of these interactions regulates NK-cell licensing is not yet clear. Moreover, there are no clear phenotypic differences between licensed and unlicensed NK cells, perhaps because of the previously limited ability to study NK cells with synchronized licensing. Here, we produced MHC class I-deficient mice with inducible MHC class I consisting of a single-chain trimer (SCT), ovalbumin peptide-?2 microgloblin-H2K(b) (SCT-K(b)). Only NK cells with a Ly49 receptor with specificity for SCT-K(b) were licensed after MHC class I induction. NK cells were localized consistently in red pulp of the spleen during induced NK-cell licensing, and there were no differences in maturation or activation markers on recently licensed NK cells. Although MHC class I-deficient NK cells were licensed in hosts following SCT-K(b) induction, NK cells were not licensed after induced SCT-K(b) expression on NK cells themselves in MHC class I-deficient hosts. Furthermore, hematopoietic cells with induced SCT-K(b) licensed NK cells more efficiently than stromal cells. These data indicate that trans interaction with MHC class I on hematopoietic cells regulates NK-cell licensing, which is not associated with other obvious phenotypic changes.
Project description:Natural killer (NK) cells can mediate the rejection of bone marrow allografts and exist as subsets based on expression of inhibitory/activating receptors that can bind MHC. In vitro data have shown that NK subsets bearing Ly49 receptors for self-MHC class I have intrinsically higher effector function, supporting the hypothesis that NK cells undergo a host MHC-dependent functional education. These subsets also play a role in bone marrow cell (BMC) allograft rejection. Thus far, little in vivo evidence for this preferential licensing across mouse strains with different MHC haplotypes has been shown. We assessed the intrinsic response potential of the different Ly49(+) subsets in BMC rejection by using ?2-microglobulin deficient (?2m(-/-)) mice as donors. Using congenic and allogeneic mice as recipients and depleting the different Ly49 subsets, we found that NK subsets bearing Ly49s, which bind "self-MHC" were found to be the dominant subset responsible for ?2m(-/-) BMC rejection. This provides in vivo evidence for host MHC class I-dependent functional education. Interestingly, all H2(d) strain mice regardless of background were able to resist significantly greater amounts of ?2m(-/-), but not wild-type BMC than H2(b) mice, providing evidence that the rheostat hypothesis regarding Ly49 affinities for MHC and NK-cell function impacts BMC rejection capability.
Project description:Natural killer (NK) cells are believed to achieve self-tolerance through the expression of self-MHC-specific inhibitory receptors, such as members of the Ly49 and CD94/NKG2 families. Individual Ly49 genes are stochastically expressed by NK subsets and are expressed in a monoallelic fashion, but little is known about the mechanisms underlying CD94/NKG2A expression. We show here that, like Ly49 genes, mouse Nkg2a is stochastically and monoallelically expressed. Thus, a single general mechanism controls expression of all known MHC-specific receptors by mouse NK cells. In addition, we find that DBA/2J mice are naturally CD94-deficient and do not express cell-surface CD94/NKG2A receptors, even on neonatal NK cells. Thus, self-tolerance of neonatal NK cells cannot be attributed to CD94/NKG2A expression. Taken together, the results lead to a reconsideration of current models of NK cell development and self-tolerance.
Project description:Murine natural killer (NK) cells express inhibitory Ly49 receptors for MHC class I molecules, which allows for "missing self" recognition of cells that downregulate MHC class I expression. During murine NK cell development, host MHC class I molecules impose an "educating impact" on the NK cell pool. As a result, mice with different MHC class I expression display different frequency distributions of Ly49 receptor combinations on NK cells. Two models have been put forward to explain this impact. The two-step selection model proposes a stochastic Ly49 receptor expression followed by selection for NK cells expressing appropriate receptor combinations. The sequential model, on the other hand, proposes that each NK cell sequentially expresses Ly49 receptors until an interaction of sufficient magnitude with self-class I MHC is reached for the NK cell to mature. With the aim to clarify which one of these models is most likely to reflect the actual biological process, we simulated the two educational schemes by mathematical modelling, and fitted the results to Ly49 expression patterns, which were analyzed in mice expressing single MHC class I molecules. Our results favour the two-step selection model over the sequential model. Furthermore, the MHC class I environment favoured maturation of NK cells expressing one or a few self receptors, suggesting a possible step of positive selection in NK cell education. Based on the predicted Ly49 binding preferences revealed by the model, we also propose, that Ly49 receptors are more promiscuous than previously thought in their interactions with MHC class I molecules, which was supported by functional studies of NK cell subsets expressing individual Ly49 receptors.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>A major group of murine inhibitory receptors on Natural Killer (NK) cells belong to the Ly49 receptor family and recognize MHC class I molecules. Infected or transformed target cells frequently downmodulate MHC class I molecules and can thus avoid CD8(+) T cell attack, but may at the same time develop NK cell sensitivity, due to failure to express inhibitory ligands for Ly49 receptors. The extent of MHC class I downregulation needed on normal cells to trigger NK cell effector functions is not known.<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>In this study, we show that cells expressing MHC class I to levels well below half of the host level are tolerated in an in vivo assay in mice. Hemizygous expression (expression from only one allele) of MHC class I was sufficient to induce Ly49 receptor downmodulation on NK cells to a similar degree as homozygous expression, despite a strongly reduced cell surface level of MHC class I. Co-expression of weaker MHC class I ligands in the host did not have any further effect on the degree of Ly49 downmodulation. Furthermore, a single MHC class I allele could downmodulate up to three Ly49 receptors on individual NK cells. Only when NK cells simultaneously expressed several Ly49 receptors and hemizygous MHC class I levels, a putative threshold for Ly49 downmodulation was reached.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Collectively, our findings suggest that in interactions between NK cells and normal untransformed cells, MHC class I molecules are in most cases expressed in excess compared to what is functionally needed to ensure self tolerance and to induce maximal Ly49 downmodulation. We speculate that the reason for this is to maintain a safety margin for otherwise normal, autologous cells over a range of MHC class I expression levels, in order to ensure robustness in NK cell tolerance.
Project description:The natural killer gene complex (NKC) on chromosome 6 contains clusters of genes that encode both activation and inhibitory receptors expressed on mouse natural killer (NK) cells. NKC genes, particularly belonging to the Nkrp1 and Ly49 gene families, display haplotype differences between different mouse strains and allelic polymorphisms of individual genes, as previously revealed by conventional analysis in a small number of inbred mouse strains. Herein we used array-based comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) to efficiently compare the NKC in 21 mouse strains to the reference C57BL/6 strain. By using unsupervised clustering methods, we could sort these variations into the same groups as determined by previous RFLP analyses of Nkrp1 and Ly49 genes. Prospective analyses of aCGH and RFLP data validated these relationships. Moreover, aCGH data predicted monoclonal antibody reactivity with an allospecific determinant on molecules expressed by NK cells. Taken together, these data demonstrate the structural variation in the NKC between mouse strains as well as the usefulness of aCGH in analysis of complex, polymorphic gene clusters.