Human-specific evolution of killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptor recognition of major histocompatibility complex class I molecules

Department of Structural Biology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences (Impact Factor: 7.06). 03/2012; 367(1590):800-11. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2011.0266
Source: PubMed


In placental mammals, natural killer (NK) cells are a population of lymphocytes that make unique contributions to immune defence and reproduction, functions essential for survival of individuals, populations and species. Modulating these functions are conserved and variable NK-cell receptors that recognize epitopes of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules. In humans, for example, recognition of human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-E by the CD94:NKG2A receptor is conserved, whereas recognition of HLA-A, B and C by the killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs) is diversified. Competing demands of the immune and reproductive systems, and of T-cell and NK-cell immunity-combined with the segregation on different chromosomes of variable NK-cell receptors and their MHC class I ligands-drive an unusually rapid evolution that has resulted in unprecedented levels of species specificity, as first appreciated from comparison of mice and humans. Counterparts to human KIR are present only in simian primates. Observed in these species is the coevolution of KIR and the four MHC class I epitopes to which human KIR recognition is restricted. Unique to hominids is the emergence of the MHC-C locus as a supplier of specialized and superior ligands for KIR. This evolutionary trend is most highly elaborated in the chimpanzee. Unique to the human KIR locus are two groups of KIR haplotypes that are present in all human populations and subject to balancing selection. Group A KIR haplotypes resemble chimpanzee KIR haplotypes and are enriched for genes encoding KIR that bind HLA class I, whereas group B KIR haplotypes are enriched for genes encoding receptors with diminished capacity to bind HLA class I. Correlating with their balance in human populations, B haplotypes favour reproductive success, whereas A haplotypes favour successful immune defence. Evolution of the B KIR haplotypes is thus unique to the human species.

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    • "In contrast, those with short cytoplasmic tail transduce an activating signal upon ligand binding. Known ligands of KIRs, particularly inhibitory ones, are HLA class I molecules [7] [8]. A peculiarity of the KIR genetic system is high polymorphism , both allelic (high numbers of allelic variants) and haplotypic (different numbers of KIR genes for activating and inhibitory receptors on individual chromosomes) [9]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Cryptorchidism is a condition where a testis persists in the abdominal cavity. Thus, due to elevated temperature we may expect induction of aberrant immune reactions depending on genetic constitution of individual. This may be reflected by development of anti-sperm antibodies (ASA) in cryptorchid males. Also, natural killer (NK) cells which belong to innate immunity may control adaptive immunity. Therefore, the gene system encoding polymorphic NK cell immunoglobulin receptors (KIRs) has been studied. 109 prepubertal boys with cryptorchidism and 136 ethnically matched young male donors were selected to study NK cell KIRs. DNA was isolated using automatic Maxwell® system from the peripheral venous blood drawn onto anticoagulant. Olerup SSP KIR Genotyping kit including Taq polymerase was used for detection of KIR genes. Human leukocyte antigen-C (HLA-C) groups, C1 and C2 were established using a Olerup SSP KIR HLA Ligand kit. KIR2DL2 (killer immunoglobulin-like receptor two-domain long 2) and KIR2DS2 (killer immunoglobulin-like receptor two-domain short 2) genes were less frequent in patients than in control individuals (corrected p values: 0.0110 and 0.0383, respectively). However, no significant differences were observed between ASA-positive and ASA-negative patients, or between bilateral or unilateral cryptorchidism. No association between KIR ligands C1 and C2, alone or together with KIR2DL2, was found. However, the results suggest that KIR2DL2+/KIR2DS2+ genotype may be, to some extent, protective against cryptorchidism.
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    • "Only some of the 13 human KIRs have been demonstrated to recognize HLA class I. In contrast, no ligand has yet been identified for KIR2DS2, 2DS3, 2DS5, 2DL5, 3DS1, and 3DL3 (87)(Table 1C). "
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    ABSTRACT: By means of a complex receptor array, Natural killer (NK) cells can recognize variable patterns of ligands and regulate or amplify accordingly their effector functions. Such NK receptors include old, rather conserved, molecules, such as toll-like receptors (TLRs), which enable NK cells to respond both to viral and bacterial products, and newer and evolving molecules, such as killer Ig-like receptors and natural cytotoxicity receptors, which control NK cytotoxicity and are responsible for the elimination of virus-infected or tumor cells without damaging self-unaltered cells. In addition, to rapidly gain new functions NK cells also can acquire new receptors by trogocytosis. Thus, NK cells may have adapted their receptors to different functional needs making them able to play a key role in the modulation of critical events occurring in several compartments of human body (primarily in SLCs but also in decidua during pregnancy). In this review, we will discuss on how the various types of receptors can be used to address specific functions in different immunological contexts.
    Frontiers in Immunology 03/2014; 5:105. DOI:10.3389/fimmu.2014.00105
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    • "Another major limitation to translation of findings obtained in mice to humans has been represented for a long time by the absence of markers conserved between mice and humans. Indeed, human NK cells express an array of either inhibitory or activating receptors undergoing high rate of evolution, even when compared to high-related chimpanzees (Parham et al., 2012), and that is quite different from that expressed by mouse NK cells (Vivier et al., 2008). The Natural Cytotoxicity Receptor (NCR) encompass three molecules initially described in human NK cells: NKp30, NKp44, and NKp46. "
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    ABSTRACT: Understanding Natural Killer (NK) cell anatomical distribution is key to dissect the role of these unconventional lymphocytes in physiological and disease conditions. In mouse, NK cells have been detected in various lymphoid and non-lymphoid organs, while in humans the current knowledge of NK cell distribution at steady state is mainly restricted to lymphoid tissues. The translation to humans of findings obtained in mice is facilitated by the identification of NK cell markers conserved between these two species. The Natural Cytotoxicity Receptor (NCR) NKp46 is a marker of the NK cell lineage evolutionary conserved in mammals. In mice, NKp46 is also present on rare T cell subsets and on a subset of gut Innate Lymphoid Cells (ILCs) expressing the retinoic acid receptor-related orphan receptor γt (RORγt) transcription factor. Here, we documented the distribution and the phenotype of human NKp46(+) cells in lymphoid and non-lymphoid tissues isolated from healthy donors. Human NKp46(+) cells were found in splenic red pulp, in lymph nodes, in lungs, and gut lamina propria, thus mirroring mouse NKp46(+) cell distribution. We also identified a novel cell subset of CD56(dim)NKp46(low) cells that includes RORγt(+) ILCs with a lineage(-)CD94(-)CD117(bright)CD127(bright) phenotype. The use of NKp46 thus contributes to establish the basis for analyzing quantitative and qualitative changes of NK cell and ILC subsets in human diseases.
    Frontiers in Immunology 11/2012; 3:344. DOI:10.3389/fimmu.2012.00344
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