4 years ago

Elusive Role of the CD94/NKG2C NK Cell Receptor in the Response to Cytomegalovirus: Novel Experimental Observations in a Reporter Cell System.

Aura Muntasell, Hartmut Hengel, Domènec Farré, Marcel Costa-García, Miguel López-Botet, Aldi Pupuleku, Ana Angulo
Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection promotes the differentiation and persistent expansion of a mature NK cell subset, which displays high surface levels of the activating CD94/NKG2C NK cell receptor, together with additional distinctive phenotypic and functional features. The mechanisms underlying the development of adaptive NK cells remain uncertain but some observations support the involvement of a cognate interaction of CD94/NKG2C with ligand(s) displayed by HCMV-infected cells. To approach this issue, the heterodimer and its adaptor (DAP12) were expressed in the human Jurkat leukemia T cell line; signaling was detected by transfection of a reporter plasmid encoding for Luciferase (Luc) under NFAT/AP1-dependent control. Engagement of the receptor by solid-phase bound CD94- or NKG2C-specific monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) triggered Luc expression. Moreover, reporter activation was detectable upon interaction with HLA-E+ 721.221 (.221-AEH) cells, as well as with 721.221 cells incubated with synthetic peptides, which stabilized surface expression of endogenous HLA-E; the response was specifically antagonized by soluble NKG2C- and HLA-E-specific mAbs. By contrast, activation of Jurkat-NKG2C+ was undetectable upon interaction with Human Fetal Foreskin Fibroblasts (HFFF) infected with HCMV laboratory strains (i.e., AD169, Towne), regardless of their differential ability to preserve surface HLA-E expression. On the other hand, infection with two clinical isolates or with the endotheliotropic TB40/E strain triggered Jurkat-NKG2C+ activation; yet, this response was not inhibited by blocking mAbs and was independent of CD94/NKG2C expression. The results are discussed in the framework of previous observations supporting the hypothetical existence of specific ligand(s) for CD94/NKG2C in HCMV-infected cells.

Publisher URL: http://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2017.01317

DOI: 10.3389/fimmu.2017.01317

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