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Dendritic cells (DC) trigger activation and IFN-gamma release by NK cells in lymphoid tissues, a process important for the polarization of Th1 responses. Little is known about the molecular signals that regulate DC-induced NK cell IFN-gamma synthesis. In this study, we analyzed whether the interaction between Qa-1(b) expressed on DC and its CD94/NKG2A receptor on NK cells affects this process. Activation of DC using CpG-oligodeoxynucleotides in Qa-1(b)-deficient mice, or transfer of CpG-oligodeoxynucleotide-activated Qa-1(b)-deficient DC into wild-type mice, resulted in dramatically increased IFN-gamma production by NK cells, as compared with that induced by Qa-1(b)-expressing DC. Masking the CD94/NKG2A inhibitory receptor on NK cells in wild-type mice similarly enhanced the IFN-gamma response of these cells to Qa-1(b)-expressing DC. Furthermore, NK cells from CD94/NKG2A-deficient mice displayed higher IFN-gamma production upon DC stimulation. These results demonstrate that Qa-1(b) is critically involved in regulating IFN-gamma synthesis by NK cells in vivo through its interaction with CD94/NKG2A inhibitory receptors. This receptor-ligand interaction may be essential to prevent unabated cytokine production by NK cells during an inflammatory response.

Original publication




Journal article


J immunol

Publication Date





4608 - 4615


Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing, Animals, Calcium-Binding Proteins, Carrier Proteins, Cell Communication, Cell Movement, Cells, Cultured, Dendritic Cells, Histocompatibility Antigens Class I, Interferon-gamma, Killer Cells, Natural, Lymph Nodes, Mice, Mice, Knockout, NK Cell Lectin-Like Receptor Subfamily D, Up-Regulation