Natural killer (NK) cells are major players of the innate immunity. Their capacity to synthesize cytokines and chemokines, to lyse various cells and to allow crosstalk between innate and adaptive immunity, make them important angular effector cells in the global immune system. NK cells have to be educated to correctly fulfill their functions. The expression of inhibitory receptors (IR) must be regulated in a way such that NK cells remain tolerant towards normal autologous cells while recognizing and eliminating cells that have lost, in part or in total, the expression of autologous major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I) molecules. This loss frequently reflects tumor transformations or viral infections. In other words, NK cells are educated or selected for sparing normal autologous cells (normal presence of self) and for detecting abnormal autologous cells (abnormal absence of self, in other words missing-self) which leads to the elimination of diseased cells. The mechanisms of this education/selection process have not yet been completely elucidated, although dramatic progress has been made in recent years.
|Title of host publication||Natural Killer Cells|
|Subtitle of host publication||At the Forefront of Modern Immunology|
|Publisher||Springer Berlin Heidelberg|
|Number of pages||16|
|Publication status||Published - 2010|