Activation of NK Cells and T Cells by NKG2D, a Receptor for Stress-Inducible MICA

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Science  30 Jul 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5428, pp. 727-729
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5428.727

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Stress-inducible MICA, a distant homolog of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I, functions as an antigen for γδ T cells and is frequently expressed in epithelial tumors. A receptor for MICA was detected on most γδ T cells, CD8+αβ T cells, and natural killer (NK) cells and was identified as NKG2D. Effector cells from all these subsets could be stimulated by ligation of NKG2D. Engagement of NKG2D activated cytolytic responses of γδ T cells and NK cells against transfectants and epithelial tumor cells expressing MICA. These results define an activating immunoreceptor-MHC ligand interaction that may promote antitumor NK and T cell responses.

  • * These authors contributed equally to this work and are listed in alphabetical order.

  • Present address: Technical University of Munich, Institute of Microbiology, Trogerstrasse 32, D-81675 Munich, Germany.

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

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