Class I HLA haplotypes form two schools that educate NK cells in different ways.
ABSTRACT: Natural killer (NK) cells are lymphocytes having vital functions in innate and adaptive immunity, as well as placental reproduction. Controlling education and functional activity of human NK cells are various receptors that recognize HLA class I on the surface of tissue cells. Epitopes of polymorphic HLA-A,-B and -C are recognized by equally diverse killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR). In addition, a peptide cleaved from the leader sequence of HLA-A,-B or -C must bind to HLA-E for it to become a ligand for the conserved CD94:NKG2A receptor. Methionine/threonine dimorphism at position -21 of the leader sequence divides HLA-B allotypes into a majority having -21T that do not supply HLA-E binding peptides and a minority having -21M, that do. Genetic analysis of human populations worldwide shows how haplotypes with -21M HLA-B rarely encode the KIR ligands: Bw4+HLA-B and C2+HLA-C KIR. Thus there are two fundamental forms of HLA haplotype: one preferentially supplying CD94:NKG2A ligands, the other preferentially supplying KIR ligands. -21 HLA-B dimorphism divides the human population into three groups: M/M, M/T and T/T. Mass cytometry and assays of immune function, shows how M/M and M/T individuals have CD94:NKG2A+ NK cells which are better educated, phenotypically more diverse and functionally more potent than those in T/T individuals. Fundamental new insights are given to genetic control of NK cell immunity and the evolution that has limited the number of NK cell receptor ligands encoded by an HLA haplotype. These finding suggest new ways to dissect the numerous clinical associations with HLA class I.
Project description:Natural killer (NK) cell function is regulated by inhibitory receptors, such as the family of killer immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs) and the NKG2A/CD94 heterodimer. These receptors recognize cognate HLA class I molecules on potential target cells, and recent studies imply that an HLA-B dimorphism at position -21 in the gene segment encoding the leader peptide dictates whether NK cell regulation primarily relies on the KIRs or the NKG2A/CD94 receptor. The impact of this HLA-B dimorphism on NK cell-mediated destruction of leukemic cells or on the course of leukemia is largely unknown. In a first part of this study, we compared functions of NK cells in subjects carrying HLA-B -21M or 21T using interleukin-2 (IL-2)-activated NK cells and leukemic cells from patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Subjects carrying HLA-B -21M harbored better-educated NKG2A+ NK cells and displayed superior capacity to degranulate lytic granules against KIR ligand-matched primary leukemic blasts. Second, we aimed to define the potential impact of HLA-B -21 variation on the course of AML in a phase 4 trial in which patients received IL-2-based immunotherapy. In keeping with the hypothesis that 21M may be associated with improved NK cell functionality, we observed superior leukemia-free survival and overall survival in -21M patients than in -21T patients during IL-2-based immunotherapy. We propose that genetic variation at HLA-B -21 may determine the antileukemic efficacy of activated NK cells and the clinical benefit of NK cell-activating immunotherapy.
Project description:Natural Killer (NK) cells play an important role in antiviral defense and their potent effector function identifies them as key candidates for immunotherapeutic interventions in chronic viral infections. Their remarkable functional agility is achieved by virtue of a wide array of germline-encoded inhibitory and activating receptors ensuring a self-tolerant and tunable repertoire. NK cell diversity is generated by a combination of factors including genetic determinants and infections/environmental factors, which together shape the NK cell pool and functional potential. Recently a genetic polymorphism at position -21 of HLA-B, which influences the supply of HLA-E binding peptides and availability of HLA-E for recognition by the inhibitory NK cell receptor NKG2A, was shown to have a marked influence on NK cell functionality in healthy human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) seronegative Caucasian individuals. In this study, -21 methionine (M)-expressing alleles supplying HLA-E binding peptides were largely poor ligands for inhibitory killer immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs), and a bias to NKG2A-mediated education of functionally-potent NK cells was observed. Here, we investigated the effect of this polymorphism on the phenotype and functional capacity of peripheral blood NK cells in a cohort of 36 African individuals with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)/HCMV co-infection. A similarly profound influence of dimorphism at position -21 of HLA-B on NK cells was not evident in these subjects. They predominantly expressed African specific HLA-B and -C alleles that contribute a distinct supply of NKG2A and KIR ligands, and these genetic differences were compounded by the marked effect of HIV-1/HCMV co-infection on NK cell differentiation. Together, these factors resulted in a lack of correlation of the HLA-B -21 polymorphism with surface abundance of HLA-E and loss of the NK cell functional advantage in subjects with -21M HLA-B alleles. Instead, our data suggest that during HIV/HCMV co-infection exposure of NK cells to an environment that displays altered HLA-E ligands drives adaptive NKG2C+ NK cell expansions influencing effector responses. Increased efforts to understand how NK cells are functionally calibrated to self-HLA during chronic viral infections will pave the way to developing targeted therapeutic interventions to overcome the current barriers to enhancing immune-based antiviral control.
Project description:Peptide selectivity is a feature of inhibitory receptors for MHC class I expressed by natural killer (NK) cells. CD94-NKG2A operates in tandem with the polymorphic killer cell Ig-like receptors (KIR) and Ly49 systems to inhibit NK cells. However, the benefits of having two distinct inhibitory receptor-ligand systems are not clear. We show that noninhibitory peptides presented by HLA-E can augment the inhibition of NKG2A(+) NK cells mediated by MHC class I signal peptides through the engagement of CD94 without a signaling partner. Thus, CD94 is a peptide-selective NK cell receptor, and NK cells can be regulated by nonsignaling interactions. We also show that KIR(+) and NKG2A(+) NK cells respond with differing stoichiometries to MHC class I down-regulation. MHC-I-bound peptide functions as a molecular rheostat controlling NK cell function. Selected peptides which in isolation do not inhibit NK cells can have different effects on KIR and NKG2A receptors. Thus, these two inhibitory systems may complement each other by having distinct responses to bound peptide and surface levels of MHC class I.
Project description:IL-15 bound to the IL-15R?-chain (IL-15R?) is presented in trans to cells bearing the IL-2R?-chain and common ?-chain. As IL-15 transpresentation occurs in the context of cell-to-cell contacts, it has the potential for regulation by and of other receptor-ligand interactions. In this study, human NK cells were tested for the sensitivity of IL-15 transpresentation to inhibitory receptors. Human cells expressing HLA class I ligands for inhibitory receptors KIR2DL1, KIR2DL2/3, or CD94-NKG2A were transfected with IL-15R?. Proliferation of primary NK cells in response to transpresented IL-15 was reduced by engagement of either KIR2DL1 or KIR2DL2/3 by cognate HLA-C ligands. Inhibitory KIR-HLA-C interactions did not reduce the proliferation induced by soluble IL-15. Therefore, transpresentation of IL-15 is subject to downregulation by MHC class I-specific inhibitory receptors. Similarly, proliferation of the NKG2A(+) cell line NKL induced by IL-15 transpresentation was inhibited by HLA-E. Coengagement of inhibitory receptors, either KIR2DL1 or CD94-NKG2A, did not inhibit phosphorylation of Stat5 but inhibited selectively phosphorylation of Akt and S6 ribosomal protein. IL-15R? was not excluded from, but was evenly distributed across, inhibitory synapses. These findings demonstrate a novel mechanism to attenuate IL-15-dependent NK cell proliferation and suggest that inhibitory NK cell receptors contribute to NK cell homeostasis.
Project description:Alloreactive natural killer (NK) cells are an important influence on hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) outcome. In HLA-mismatched HSCT, alloreactivity occurs when licensed donor NK cells expressing inhibitory killer Ig-like receptors (KIR) for donor MHC class I ligands recognize the lack of the class I ligands in the mismatched recipient ("missing self"). Studies in HLA-matched HSCT, however, have also demonstrated improved outcome in patients lacking class I ligands for donor inhibitory KIR ("missing ligand"), indicating that classically nonlicensed donor NK cells expressing KIR for non-self MHC class I ligands may exhibit functional competence in HSCT. We examined NK function in 16 recipients of T cell-depleted allografts from HLA-identical or KIR-ligand matched donors after myeloablative therapy. After HSCT, nonlicensed NK cells expressing inhibitory KIR for non-self class I exhibit robust intracellular IFN-gamma and cytotoxic response to target cells lacking cognate ligand, gradually becoming tolerized to self by day 100. These findings could not be correlated with cytokine environment or phenotypic markers of NK development, nor could they be attributed to non-KIR receptors such as CD94/NKG2A. These findings confirm that NK alloreactivity can occur in HLA-matched HSCT, where tolerance to self is either acquired by the stem cell-derived NK cell after exiting the bone marrow or where tolerance to self can be temporarily overcome.
Project description:Natural killer (NK) cell cytotoxicity toward self-cells is restrained by the inhibitory HLA class I-binding receptors CD94/NKG2A and the killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs). CD94/NKG2A and KIRs are also essential for NK cell education, which is a dynamic functional maturation process where a constitutive binding of inhibitory receptors to cognate HLA class I molecules is required for NK cells to maintain their full cytotoxic capacity. Previously, we described autoantibodies to CD94/NKG2A in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). In this study we analyzed sera from 191 patients with SLE, 119 patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS), 48 patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc), and 100 healthy donors (HD) for autoantibodies to eight different KIRs. Anti-KIR autoantibodies were identified in sera from 23.0% of patients with SLE, 10.9% of patients with pSS, 12.5% of patients with SSc, and 3.0% of HD. IgG from anti-KIR-positive SLE patients reduced the degranulation and cytotoxicity of NK cells toward K562 tumor cells. The presence of anti-KIR-autoantibodies reacting with >3 KIRs was associated with an increased disease activity (p < 0.0001), elevated serum levels of IFN-? (p < 0.0001), nephritis (p = 0.001), and the presence of anti-Sm (p = 0.007), and anti-RNP (p = 0.003) autoantibodies in serum. Together these findings suggest that anti-KIR autoantibodies may contribute to the reduced function of NK cells in SLE patients, and that a defective NK cell function may be a risk factor for the development of lupus nephritis.
Project description:Major histocompatibility class I (MHC-I)-specific inhibitory receptors on natural killer (NK) cells (iNKRs) tolerize mature NK cell responses toward normal cells. NK cells generate cytolytic responses to virus-infected or malignant target cells with altered or decreased MHC-I surface expression due to the loss of tolerizing ligands. The NKG2A/CD94 iNKR suppresses NK cell responses through recognition of the non-classical MHC-I, HLA-E. We used HIV-infected primary T-cells as targets in an in vitro cytolytic assay with autologous NK cells from healthy donors. In these experiments, primary NKG2A/CD94(+) NK cells surprisingly generated the most efficient responses toward HIV-infected T-cells, despite high HLA-E expression on the infected targets. Since certain MHC-I-presented peptides can alter recognition by iNKRs, we hypothesized that HIV-1-derived peptides presented by HLA-E on infected cells may block engagement with NKG2A/CD94, thereby engendering susceptibility to NKG2A/CD94(+) NK cells. We demonstrate that HLA-E is capable of presenting a highly conserved peptide from HIV-1 capsid (AISPRTLNA) that is not recognized by NKG2A/CD94. We further confirmed that HLA-C expressed on HIV-infected cells restricts attack by KIR2DL(+) CD56(dim) NK cells, in contrast to the efficient responses by CD56(bright) NK cells, which express predominantly NKG2A/CD94 and lack KIR2DLs. These findings are important since the use of NK cells was recently proposed to treat latently HIV-1-infected patients in combination with latency reversing agents. Our results provide a mechanistic basis to guide these future clinical studies, suggesting that ex vivo-expanded NKG2A/CD94(+) KIR2DL(-) NK cells may be uniquely beneficial.
Project description:In placental mammals, natural killer (NK) cells are a population of lymphocytes that make unique contributions to immune defence and reproduction, functions essential for survival of individuals, populations and species. Modulating these functions are conserved and variable NK-cell receptors that recognize epitopes of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules. In humans, for example, recognition of human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-E by the CD94:NKG2A receptor is conserved, whereas recognition of HLA-A, B and C by the killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs) is diversified. Competing demands of the immune and reproductive systems, and of T-cell and NK-cell immunity-combined with the segregation on different chromosomes of variable NK-cell receptors and their MHC class I ligands-drive an unusually rapid evolution that has resulted in unprecedented levels of species specificity, as first appreciated from comparison of mice and humans. Counterparts to human KIR are present only in simian primates. Observed in these species is the coevolution of KIR and the four MHC class I epitopes to which human KIR recognition is restricted. Unique to hominids is the emergence of the MHC-C locus as a supplier of specialized and superior ligands for KIR. This evolutionary trend is most highly elaborated in the chimpanzee. Unique to the human KIR locus are two groups of KIR haplotypes that are present in all human populations and subject to balancing selection. Group A KIR haplotypes resemble chimpanzee KIR haplotypes and are enriched for genes encoding KIR that bind HLA class I, whereas group B KIR haplotypes are enriched for genes encoding receptors with diminished capacity to bind HLA class I. Correlating with their balance in human populations, B haplotypes favour reproductive success, whereas A haplotypes favour successful immune defence. Evolution of the B KIR haplotypes is thus unique to the human species.
Project description:Natural killer (NK) cell-based immunotherapy is a promising therapy for cancer patients. Inhibitory killer immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs) and NKG2A are required for NK cell licensing, but can also inhibit NK cell effector function. Upon reconstitution in a stem cell transplantation setting or after <i>ex vivo</i> NK expansion with IL-2, NKG2A is expressed on a large percentage of NK cells. Since the functional consequences of NKG2A co-expression for activated NK cells are not well known, we compared NKG2A+ vs NKG2A- NK cell subsets in response to K562 cells, multiple myeloma (MM) cell lines and primary MM cells. NK cells were isolated from healthy donors (HLA-C1+C2+Bw4+) and activated overnight with 1,000 U/ml IL-2. NK cell degranulation in subsets expressing KIRs and/or NKG2A was assessed at 21 or 0.6% O<sub>2</sub>. Activated NKG2A+ NK cell subsets degranulated more vigorously than NKG2A- subsets both at 21 and 0.6% O<sub>2</sub>. This was irrespective of the presence of KIR and occurred in response to HLA-deficient K562 cells as well as HLA competent, lowly expressing HLA-E MM cell lines. In response to primary MM cells, no inhibitory effects of NKG2A were observed, and NKG2A blockade did not enhance degranulation of NKG2A+ subsets. KIR- NK cells expressing NKG2A degranulated less than their NKG2A- counterparts in response to MM cells having high levels of peptide-induced membrane HLA-E, suggesting that high surface HLA-E levels are required for NKG2A to inhibit activated NK cells. Addition of daratumumab, an anti-CD38 to trigger antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity, improved the anti-MM response for all subsets and degranulation of the KIR-NKG2A- "unlicensed" subset was comparable to KIR+ or NKG2A+ licensed subsets. This demonstrates that with potent activation, all subsets can contribute to tumor clearance. Additionally, subsets expressing KIRs mismatched with the HLA ligands on the target cell had the highest level of activation in response to MM cell lines as well as against primary MM. Our current study demonstrated that if NK cells are sufficiently activated, e.g., <i>via</i> cytokine or antibody activation, the (co-)expression of NKG2A receptor may not necessarily be a disadvantage for NK cell-based therapy.
Project description:Natural killer (NK) cell therapies are a tool to antagonize a dysfunctional immune system. NK cells recognize malignant cells, traffic to a tumor location, and infiltrate the solid tumor. The immune checkpoint molecule human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-G is upregulated on malignant cells but not on healthy surrounding cells, the requirement of understanding the basis of receptor mediated events at the HLA-G/NK cell interface becomes obvious. The NK cell receptors ILT2 and KIR2DL4 have been described to bind to HLA-G; however, their differential function and expression levels on NK cell subsets suggest the existence of an unreported receptor. Here, we performed a ligand-based receptor capture on living cells utilizing sHLA-G*01:01 molecules coupled to TriCEPS and bound to NK cells followed by mass spectrometric analyses. We could define NKG2A/CD94 as a cognate receptor of HLA-G. To verify the results, we used the reciprocal method by expressing recombinant soluble heterodimeric NKG2A/CD94 molecules and used them to target HLA-G*01:01 expressing cells. NKG2A/CD94 could be confirmed as an immune receptor of HLA-G*01:01. Despite HLA-G is marginal polymorphic, we could previously demonstrate that the most common allelic subtypes HLA-G*01:01/01:03 and 01:04 differ in peptide repertoire, their engagement to NK cells, their catalyzation of dNK cell proliferation and their impact on NK cell development. Continuing these studies with regard to NKG2A/CD94 engagement we engineered recombinant single antigen presenting K562 cells and targeted the surface expressed HLA-G*01:01, 01:03 or 01:04 molecules with NKG2A/CD94. Specificity and sensitivity of HLA-G*01:04/NKG2A/CD94 engagement could be significantly verified. The binding affinity decreases when using K562-G*01:03 or K562-G*01:01 cells as targets. These results demonstrate that the ligand-receptor assignment between HLA-G and NKG2A/CD94 is dependent of the amino acid composition in the HLA-G heavy chain. Understanding the biophysical basis of receptor-mediated events that lead to NK cell inhibition would help to remove non-tumor reactive cells and support personalized mild autologous NK cell therapies.