Immunology

A view to a kill, preventing collateral damage

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Science  23 Dec 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6319, pp. 1547-1548
DOI: 10.1126/science.354.6319.1547-g

Natural killer (NK) cells are immune cells that kill virally infected target cells. To do this, NK cells dock with their sickened targets and unleash on them the destructive contents of their cytotoxic lytic granules. Hsu et al. looked at the detailed cellular rearrangements involved in killing. They regulated signaling pathways and used acoustic trap microscopy to arrange NK and target cells in such a way that the lytic granules would be released in a directed fashion toward the targets or in a nondirected fashion. Perhaps unsurprisingly, when the NK cells had the chance to line up and release their lytic granules directly toward their targets, fewer bystander cells were damaged. Furthermore, killing of the target cells was more efficient. Inhibiting the microtubule motor dynein or blocking cell adhesion molecules interfered with targeted killing and increased nondirected granule release, thereby damaging more bystander cells.

J. Cell Biol. 10.1083/jcb.201604136 (2016).

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