Natural killer (NK) cells express a repertoire of killer cell inhibitory receptors (KIR) for major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules. KIR specificity for MHC class I can be broad, as in the case of a single p70 KIR that can recognize several HLA-B allotypes, including HLA-B*2705. On the other hand, recognition of MHC class I can also be highly specific, as in the case of NK clones that recognize HLA-B*2705 in a peptide-specific manner. Most NK cells express multiple KIR sequences. To determine whether the broad and specific types of HLA-B recognition by NK cells reflect the use of different receptors or a property of a single KIR we analyzed the recognition of HLA-B*2705 by the p70 KIR-11, known to recognize several HLA-B allotypes. Vaccinia virus-mediated expression of KIR-11 in NK clones resulted in inhibition by HLA-B*2705 molecules on wild type but not on target cells deficient in the transporter for antigen presentation (TAP). Two peptides (FRYNGLIHR and RRSKEITVR) loaded onto HLA-B*2705 molecules on TAP-deficient cells provided protection from lysis by NK cells expressing KIR-11 but three other B27-specific peptides did not. As the five peptides bound to HLA-B*2705 with similar stability, these data demonstrate that a single KIR specific for several HLA-B allotypes recognizes a subset of peptides bound to HLA-B*2705.

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