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

Transfer of NKG2D and MICB at the cytotoxic NK cell immune synapse correlates with a reduction in NK cell cytotoxic function.

Although transfer of membrane proteins has been shown to occur during immune cell interactions, the functional significance of this process is not well understood. Here we describe the intercellular transfer of NKG2D and MHC class I chain-related molecule (MIC) B proteins at the cytotoxic natural killer cell immune synapse (cNK-IS). MICB expressed on the 721.221 cell line induced clustering of NKG2D at the central supramolecular activation cluster, surrounded by a peripheral supramolecular activation cluster containing F-actin. Moreover, natural killer (NK) cell membrane-connective structures formed during cytotoxic interactions contained F-actin, perforin, and NKG2D. NKG2D transfer depended on binding to MICB and was specific because transfer of other molecules not involved in NK-IS formation was not observed. Transfer of MICB to NK cells also was noted, suggesting a bidirectional exchange of receptor/ligand pairs at cNK-IS. Experiments designed to test the functional significance of these observations revealed that brief interactions between NK cells and MICB expressing target cells led to a reduction in NKG2D-dependent NK cytotoxicity. These data demonstrate interchange of an activating receptor and its ligand at the cNK-IS and document a correlation between synapse organization, intercellular protein transfer, and compromised NK cell function after interaction with a susceptible target cell.[1]


  1. Transfer of NKG2D and MICB at the cytotoxic NK cell immune synapse correlates with a reduction in NK cell cytotoxic function. Roda-Navarro, P., Vales-Gomez, M., Chisholm, S.E., Reyburn, H.T. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (2006) [Pubmed]
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