Vital Involvement of a Natural Killer Cell Activation Receptor in Resistance to Viral Infection

Science  04 May 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5518, pp. 934-937
DOI: 10.1126/science.1060042

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Natural killer (NK) cells are lymphocytes that can be distinguished from T and B cells through their involvement in innate immunity and their lack of rearranged antigen receptors. Although NK cells and their receptors were initially characterized in terms of tumor killing in vitro, we have determined that the NK cell activation receptor, Ly-49H, is critically involved in resistance to murine cytomegalovirus in vivo. Ly-49H requires an immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation motif (ITAM)–containing transmembrane molecule for expression and signal transduction. Thus, NK cells use receptors functionally resembling ITAM-coupled T and B cell antigen receptors to provide vital innate host defense.

  • * These authors contributed equally to this work.

  • Present address: Division of Rheumatology and Immunology, University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, Box 800412, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA.

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: yokoyama{at}

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