Natural killer (NK) cells are lymphocytes that can mediate lysis of certain tumor cells and virus-infected cells without previous activation. They can also regulate specific humoral and cell-mediated immunity. KLRD1 (CD94) is an antigen preferentially expressed on NK cells and is classified as a type II membrane protein because it has an external C terminus. KLRC1 (NKG2A) is also a type II transmembrane protein which dimerize with CD94 molecule. CD94 contains a short cytoplasmic domain and it is responsible for signal transduction. CD94/NKG2 is a family of C-type lectin receptors which are expressed predominantly on the surface of NK cells and a subset of CD8+ T-lymphocyte. These receptors stimulate or inhibit cytotoxic activity of NK cells, therefore they are divided into activating and inhibitory receptors according to their function. CD94/NKG2 recognize non-classical MHC glycoproteins class I (HLA-E in human and Qa-1 molecules in the mouse). NKG2A receptor transmit inhibitory signal and contains two Immuno-receptor tyrosine-based inhibitory motives (ITIM) in the cytoplasmic tail that are defined by the sequence (I/L/V/S)xYxx(L/V), where “x” means any amino acid at a given position. If ITIM-bearing receptors engage their ligand, probably Src family kinase phosphorylates tyrosine residue, and this allows recruitment of the tyrosine phosphatase SHP-1, SHP-2 or SHIP. It leads to de-phosphorylation of tyrosine kinase’s substrates, which are involved in the activating cascades. As a result, NK cell activation is suppressed.
Protein expression analysis in NK cells
Strain specific NKG2A expression analysis in heterozygous B-hNKG2A mice by flow cytometry. Splenocytes were collected from WT and heterozygous B-hNKG2A (H/+) mice, and analyzed by flow cytometry with species-specific NKG2A antibody. Mouse NKG2A was detectable in WT mice and heterozygous B-hNKG2A. Human NKG2A was exclusively detectable in heterozygous B-hNKG2A but not WT mice. (Monalizumab was used to detect the human NKG2A protein in WT and heterozygous B-hNKG2A mice)