Dendritic Cells Diversify

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Science  17 Mar 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5767, pp. 1525
DOI: 10.1126/science.311.5767.1525b

Dendritic cells act as pivotal coordinators of the immune response, inducing T cells to develop specific effector functions, such as the killing of tumor cells.

Chan et al. present evidence that at least one new lineage of dendritic cells may, in fact, be tasked with an even broader remit than previously thought. After stimulation through innate immune receptors, a subpopulation of cells could be induced to display major features of conventional dendritic cells. However, before arriving at this point, they first transited through a phenotype more akin to that of a natural killer (NK) cell, including being able to produce interferon gamma (IFN-γ) and to kill NK-sensitive target cells. These interferon-producing killer dendritic cells (IKDCs) displayed similar properties in vivo, and after activation were seen to migrate to lymph nodes to carry out their antigen-presenting functions. Taieb et al. also observed that IKDCs were a principal source of IFN-γ and also used expression of the pro-apoptotic ligand TRAIL to kill malignant cells and reduce the tumor burden in a mouse melanoma model. Both studies raise questions about the relationships between the cellular components that sense, regulate, and execute tumor immunity. — SJS

Nat. Med. 12, 207; 214 (2006).


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