Natural killer (NK) cells kill normal and transformed hematopoietic cells that lack expression of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I antigens. Lysis of HLA-negative Epstein Barr virus-transformed B lymphoblastoid cell lines (B-LCL) by human NK cell clones can be inhibited by transfection of the target cells with certain HLA-A, -B, or -C alleles. NK cell clones established from an individual demonstrate clonal heterogeneity in HLA recognition and a single NK clone can recognize multiple alleles. We describe a potential human NK cell receptor (NKB1) for certain HLA-B alleles (e.g., HLA-B*5101 and-B*5801) identified by the mAb DX9. NKB1 is a 70-kD glycoprotein that is expressed on a subset of NK cells and NK cell clones. DX9 monoclonal antibody (mAb) specifically inhibits the interaction between NK cell clones and B-LCL targets transfected with certain HLA-B alleles, but does not affect recognition of HLA-A or HLA-C antigens. An individual NK cell clone can independently recognize B-LCL targets transfected with HLA-B or HLA-C antigens; however, DX9 mAb only affects interaction with transfectants expressing certain HLA-B alleles. These findings demonstrate the existence of NK cell receptors involved in the recognition of HLA-B and imply the presence of multiple receptors for MHC on an individual NK clone.

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