The Natural Cytotoxicity Receptors in Health and Disease.
ABSTRACT: The Natural Cytotoxicity Receptors (NCRs), NKp46, NKp44, and NKp30, were some of the first human activating Natural Killer (NK) cell receptors involved in the non-MHC-restricted recognition of tumor cells to be cloned over 20 years ago. Since this time many host- and pathogen-encoded ligands have been proposed to bind the NCRs and regulate the cytotoxic and cytokine-secreting functions of tissue NK cells. This diverse set of NCR ligands can manifest on the surface of tumor or virus-infected cells or can be secreted extracellularly, suggesting a remarkable NCR polyfunctionality that regulates the activity of NK cells in different tissue compartments during steady state or inflammation. Moreover, the NCRs can also be expressed by other innate and adaptive immune cell subsets under certain tissue conditions potentially conferring NK recognition programs to these cells. Here we review NCR biology in health and disease with particular reference to how this important class of receptors regulates the functions of tissue NK cells as well as confer NK cell recognition patterns to other innate and adaptive lymphocyte subsets. Finally, we highlight how NCR biology is being harnessed for novel therapeutic interventions particularly for enhanced tumor surveillance.
Project description:Natural killer (NK) cells are part of the innate immunity repertoire, and function in the recognition and destruction of tumorigenic and pathogen-infected cells. Engagement of NK cell activating receptors can lead to functional activation of NK cells, resulting in lysis of target cells. NK cell activating receptors specific for non-major histocompatibility complex ligands are NKp46, NKp44, NKp30, NKG2D, and CD16 (also known as Fc?RIII). The natural cytotoxicity receptors (NCRs), NKp46, NKp44, and NKp30, have been implicated in functional activation of NK cells following influenza virus infection via binding with influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA). In this review we describe NK cell and influenza A virus biology, and the interactions of influenza A virus HA and other pathogen lectins with NK cell natural cytotoxicity receptors (NCRs). We review concepts which intersect viral immunology, traditional virology and glycobiology to provide insights into the interactions between influenza virus HA and the NCRs. Furthermore, we provide expert opinion on future directions that would provide insights into currently unanswered questions.
Project description:Molecular and functional characterization of the natural cytotoxicity receptor (NCR) NKp44 in species other than Homo sapiens has been elusive, so far. Here, we provide complete phenotypic, molecular and functional characterization for NKp44 triggering receptor on Pan troglodytes NK cells, the closest human relative, and the analysis of NKp44-genomic locus and transcription in Macaca fascicularis. Similar to H. sapiens, NKp44 expression is detectable on chimpanzee NK cells only upon activation. However, basal NKp44 transcription is 5-fold higher in chimpanzees with lower differential increases upon cell activation compared with humans. Upon activation, an overall 12-fold lower NKp44 gene expression is observed in P. troglodytes compared with H. sapiens NK cells with only a slight reduction in NKp44 surface expression. Functional analysis of 'in vitro' activated purified NK cells confirms the NKp44 triggering potential compared with other major NCRs. These findings suggest the presence of a post-transcriptional regulation that evolved differently in H. sapiens. Analysis of cynomolgus NKp44-genomic sequence and transcription pattern showed very low levels of transcription with occurrence of out-of-frame transcripts and no surface expression. The present comparative analysis suggests that NKp44-genomic organization appears during macaque speciation, with considerable evolution of its transcriptional and post-transcriptional tuning. Thus, NKp44 may represent an NCR being only recently emerged during speciation, acquiring functional relevance only in non-human primates closest to H. sapiens.
Project description:NKp44 (NCR2) is a distinct member of natural cytotoxicity receptors (NCRs) family that can induce cytokine production and cytolytic activity in human NK cells. Heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) are differentially expressed in various normal and cancerous tissues. HSPGs were reported to serve as ligands/co-ligands for NKp44 and other NCRs. However, HSPG expression is not restricted to either group and can be found also in NK cells. Our current study reveals that NKp44 function can be modulated through interactions with HSPGs on NK cells themselves in -cis rather than on target cells in -trans. The intimate interaction of NKp44 and the NK cell-associated HSPG syndecan-4 (SDC4) in -cis can directly regulate membrane distribution of NKp44 and constitutively dampens the triggering of the receptor. We further demonstrate, that the disruption of NKp44 and SDC4 interaction releases the receptor to engage with its ligands in -trans and therefore enhances NKp44 activation potential and NK cell functional response.
Project description:The natural cytotoxicity receptors NKp46/NCR1, NKp44/NCR2 and NKp30/NCR3 are critical for natural killer (NK) cell functions. Their genes are transcribed into several splice variants whose physiological relevance is not yet fully understood. Here we report that decidua basalis NK (dNK) cells of the pregnant uterine mucosa and peripheral blood NK (pNK) cells, two functionally distinct subsets of the physiological NK cell pool, display differential expression of NKp30/NCR3 and NKp44/NCR2 splice variants. The presence of cytokines that are enriched within the decidual microenvironment is sufficient to convert the splice variant profile of pNK cells into one similar to that of dNK cells. This switch is associated with decreased cytotoxic function and major adaptations to the secretome, hallmarks of the decidual phenotype. Thus, NKp30/NCR3 and NKp44/NCR2 splice variants delineate functionally distinct NK cell subsets. To our knowledge, this is the first conclusive evidence underlining the physiological importance of NCR splice variants.
Project description:Natural killer (NK) cells are lymphocytes of the innate immune system that participate in the elimination of tumor cells. In humans, the activating natural cytotoxicity receptors (NCRs) NKp30, NKp44, and NKp46 play a major role in NK cell-mediated tumor cell lysis. NKp30 recognizes B7-H6, a member of the B7 family which is expressed on tumor, but not healthy, cells. To understand the basis for tumor surveillance by NCRs, we determined the structure of NKp30, a member of the CD28 family which includes CTLA-4 and PD-1, in complex with B7-H6. The overall organization of the NKp30-B7-H6-activating complex differs considerably from those of the CTLA-4-B7 and PD-1-PD-L T cell inhibitory complexes. Whereas CTLA-4 and PD-1 use only the front ?-sheet of their Ig-like domain to bind ligands, NKp30 uses both front and back ?-sheets, resulting in engagement of B7-H6 via the side, as well as face, of the ?-sandwich. Moreover, B7-H6 contacts NKp30 through the complementarity-determining region (CDR)-like loops of its V-like domain in an antibody-like interaction that is not observed for B7 or PD-L. This first structure of an NCR bound to ligand provides a template for designing molecules to stimulate NKp30-mediated cytolytic activity for tumor immunotherapy.
Project description:NK cells use a variety of receptors to detect abnormal cells, including tumors and their metastases. However, in the case of melanoma, it remains to be determined what specific molecular interactions are involved and whether NK cells control metastatic progression and/or the route of dissemination. Here we show that human melanoma cell lines derived from LN metastases express ligands for natural cytotoxicity receptors (NCRs) and DNAX accessory molecule-1 (DNAM-1), two emerging NK cell receptors key for cancer cell recognition, but not NK group 2 member D (NKG2D). Compared with cell lines derived from metastases taken from other anatomical sites, LN metastases were more susceptible to NK cell lysis and preferentially targeted by adoptively transferred NK cells in a xenogeneic model of cell therapy. In mice, DNAM-1 and NCR ligands were also found on spontaneous melanomas and melanoma cell lines. Interference with DNAM-1 and NCRs by antibody blockade or genetic disruption reduced killing of melanoma cells. Taken together, these results show that DNAM-1 and NCRs are critical for NK cell-mediated innate immunity to melanoma cells and provide a background to design NK cell-based immunotherapeutic strategies against melanoma and possibly other tumors.
Project description:Natural killer (NK) cells are an important element in the immune defense against the orthopox family members vaccinia virus (VV) and ectromelia virus (ECTV). NK cells are regulated through inhibitory and activating signaling receptors, the latter involving NKG2D and the natural cytotoxicity receptors (NCR), NKp46, NKp44 and NKp30. Here we report that VV infection results in an upregulation of ligand structures for NKp30 and NKp46 on infected cells, whereas the binding of NKp44 and NKG2D was not significantly affected. Likewise, infection with ectromelia virus (ECTV), the mousepox agent, enhanced binding of NKp30 and, to a lesser extent, NKp46. The hemagglutinin (HA) molecules from VV and ECTV, which are known virulence factors, were identified as novel ligands for NKp30 and NKp46. Using NK cells with selectively silenced NCR expression and NCR-CD3? reporter cells, we observed that HA present on the surface of VV-infected cells, or in the form of recombinant soluble protein, was able to block NKp30-triggered activation, whereas it stimulated the activation through NKp46. The net effect of this complex influence on NK cell activity resulted in a decreased NK lysis susceptibility of infected cells at late time points of VV infection when HA was expression was pronounced. We conclude that poxviral HA represents a conserved ligand of NCR, exerting a novel immune escape mechanism through its blocking effect on NKp30-mediated activation at a late stage of infection.
Project description:In the setting of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, changes in natural killer (NK) cells have been shown to reflect activation in response to virus stimulation. The contribution of individual natural cytotoxicity receptors to HCV infection remains to be clarified. NKp44 is the sole specific natural cytotoxicity receptor expressed only on activated NK cells.In this study, peripheral blood and liver NK-cell subsets were purified from 31 patients with chronic C hepatitis or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, and then characterized by flow cytometry. Their polyfunctional activity was determined by expression of the CD107a degranulation marker, together with intracellular cytokine production.Unlike the patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, patients with chronic HCV infection had a higher frequency of NKp44 NK cells in the liver than in their peripheral blood (P?<?0.0001). Intrahepatic NKp44 NK cells from HCV individuals produced higher levels of tumor necrosis factor-? than did NKp44 NK cells (P?=?0.0011). Importantly, the frequency of intrahepatic NKp44 NK cells was correlated with both HCV-RNA levels (P?=?0.0234) and stage of fibrosis (P?=?0.0003).Our findings suggest that the accumulation of intrahepatic tumor necrosis factor-?-producing NKp44 resident NK cells play a role in the liver damage associated with chronic HCV infection.
Project description:In a phase IV trial, 84 patients (age 18-79) with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in first complete remission (CR) received cycles of immunotherapy with histamine dihydrochloride (HDC) and low-dose human recombinant interleukin 2 (IL-2) for 18 months to prevent leukemic relapse. During cycles, the treatment resulted in expansion of CD56(bright) (CD3(-)/16(-)/56(bright)) and CD16(+) (CD3(-)/16(+)/56(+)) natural killer (NK) cells in the blood along with increased NK cell expression of the natural cytotoxicity receptors (NCRs) NKp30 and NKp46. Multivariate analyses correcting for age and risk group demonstrated that high CD56(bright) NK cell counts and high expression of NKp30 or NKp46 on CD16(+) NK cells independently predicted leukemia-free survival (LFS) and overall survival (OS). Our results suggest that the dynamics of NK cell subsets and their NCR expression may determine the efficiency of relapse-preventive immunotherapy in AML.
Project description:A prospective analysis of the distribution of NK subsets and natural cytotoxicity receptors (NKp30/NKp46) in HIV patients with long-term HAART use and sustained virological and immunological response.The main inclusion criteria were: at least 3 years' receipt of HAART; current CD4+ count ? 500 cells/mm3; undetectable viral load for at least 24 months; no hepatotropic virus co-infection. Percentages of CD56dim, CD56bright NK cells and CD56neg CD16+ cells were obtained. Expression of the NCRs, NKp30 and NKp46 was analysed in CD56+ cells. Thirty-nine infected patients and sixteen healthy donors were included in the study.The percentages of total CD56+ and CD56dim NK cells were significantly lower in HIV-infected patients than in healthy donors (70.4 vs. 50.3 and 80.9 vs. 66.1 respectively). The percentage of total CD56+ NK cells expressing NCR receptors was lower in HIV patients than in healthy donors (NKp30: 25.20 vs. 58.63; NKp46: 24.8 vs. 50.59). This was also observed for CD56dim and CD56bright NK cells. Length of time with undetectable HIV viral load was identified as an independent factor associated with higher expression of NKp30 and NKp46.Despite the prolonged and effective use of HAART, HIV-infected patients do not fully reconstitute the distribution of NK cells. Length of time with an undetectable viral load was related to greater recovery of NKp30/NKp46 receptors.