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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Cobalt-mediated dimerization of the human natural killer cell inhibitory receptor.

Upon engagement of specific class I major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules on target cells, inhibitory receptors on natural killer (NK) cells deliver a negative signal that prevents the target cell lysis by NK cells. In humans, killer cell immunoglobulin-related receptors (KIR) with two immunoglobulin-like domains (KIR2D) modulate the lysis of target cells bearing specific HLA-C alleles (Moretta, A., Vitale, M., Bottino, C., Orengo, A. M., Morelli, L., Augugliaro, R., Barbaresi, M., Ciccone, E., and Moretta, L. (1993) J. Exp. Med. 178, 597-604). The transduction of inhibitory signals by KIR2D molecules is impaired by the zinc chelator, 1,10-phenanthroline, and mutation of a putative zinc-binding site (Rajagopalan, S., and Long, E. O. (1998) J. Immunol. 161, 1299-1305), but the mechanism by which zinc may affect the function of KIR remains unknown. In this study, the inhibitory NK receptor KIR2DL1 was discovered to dimerize in the presence of Co(2+) as observed on native gel electrophoresis and by gel filtration column chromatography. Furthermore, Co(2+)-mediated KIR2DL1 dimer binds to HLA-Cw4 with higher affinity than the wild type KIR2DL1 monomer. Replacement of the amino-terminal His residue by Ala abolishes the ability of KIR2DL1 to bind Co(2+), indicating that Co(2+)-mediated KIR2DL1 dimerization involves pairing of the D1 domain. Although not observed on native gels, the inhibitory receptor KIR2DL1 can be chemically cross-linked into dimers in the presence of Zn(2+) and its related divalent metal ions, suggesting that Co(2+)-mediated dimerization of KIR2DL1 may mimic a weaker interaction between KIR2DL1 and zinc in vivo.[1]


  1. Cobalt-mediated dimerization of the human natural killer cell inhibitory receptor. Fan, Q.R., Long, E.O., Wiley, D.C. J. Biol. Chem. (2000) [Pubmed]
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