Natural killer (NK) cells that express the NKB1 receptor are inhibited from killing target cells that possess human histocompatibility leukocyte antigen (HLA) B molecules bearing the Bw4 serological epitope. To investigate whether NKB1 expression is affected by HLA type, peripheral blood lymphocytes of 203 HLA-typed donors were examined. Most donors had a single population of NKB1+ cells, but some had two populations expressing different cell surface levels of NKB1, and others had no detectable NKB1+ cells. Among the donors expressing NKB1, both the relative abundance of NKB1+ NK cells and their level of cell surface expression varied substantially. The percentage of NKB1+ NK cells ranged from 0 to >75% (mean 14.7%), and the mean fluorescence of the positive population varied over three orders of magnitude. For each donor, the small percentage of T cells expressing NKB1 (usually <2%), had a pattern of expression mirroring that of the NK cells. NKB1 expression by NK and T cells remained stable over the 2-yr period that five donors were tested. Patterns of NKB1 expression were not associated with Bw4 or Bw6 serotype of the donor or with the presence of any individual HLA-A or -B antigens. Cells expressing NKB1 are often found in donors who do not possess an appropriate class I ligand, and can be absent in those who express Bw4+ HLA-B antigens. Family studies further suggested that the phenotype of NKB1 expression is inherited but not HLA linked. Whereas identical twins show matching patterns of NKB1 expression, HLA-identical siblings can differ in NKB1 expression, and conversely, HLA-disparate siblings can be similar. Thus NKB1 expression phenotypes are tightly regulated and extremely heterogeneous, but not correlated with HLA type.
Heterogeneous phenotypes of expression of the NKB1 natural killer cell class I receptor among individuals of different human histocompatibility leukocyte antigens types appear genetically regulated, but not linked to major histocompatibililty complex haplotype.
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J E Gumperz, N M Valiante, P Parham, L L Lanier, D Tyan; Heterogeneous phenotypes of expression of the NKB1 natural killer cell class I receptor among individuals of different human histocompatibility leukocyte antigens types appear genetically regulated, but not linked to major histocompatibililty complex haplotype.. J Exp Med 1 April 1996; 183 (4): 1817–1827. doi: https://doi.org/10.1084/jem.183.4.1817
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