Virus-Specific Peptide Dependent NK Cell Cytotoxicity
Lan Tong, Mario Assenmacher, Kurt S. Zanker and Peter Jahn
Affiliation: Friedrich-Karl-Straße 228D, D-50735 Cologne, Germany.
Keywords: Antigen-specific, CMV, cytotoxicity, EBV, MHC-peptide-complex, NK cells.
NK cells do not express recombination-dependent antigen-specific receptors and are traditionally defined as
cells of the innate immune response. The activation of NK cells was believed to be controlled by the net balance of signals
from a multitude of activating and inhibitory receptors irrespectively of antigen specificity. However, murine antigenspecific
memory NK cells in liver have been described to mediate hapten or viral specific recall response and are capable
of infiltrating to the site of infection. The mechanisms by which NK cells recognize target cells in an antigen-specific
manner are largely unclear. Using a novel multiplex killing assay, we screened the NK cell (human) cytotoxic activity of
35 different donors against different virus peptide pools loaded autologous B cells. We have found that human NK cells
from some CMV and EBV positive donors can recognize peptide loaded autologous B cells as targets and perform
antigen-specific cytotoxic killing. This may provide evidence that NK cells are able to scan the peptide repertoire on the
target cell surface and virus-derived peptides may influence the NK cell activation-inhibition balance.
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