Centre d‘immunologie Inserm‐CNRS, Campus universitaire de Luminy, Case 906, 13288 Marseille Cedex 09
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- Page(s) : 53-64
- Published in: 2004
NK cells are large granular lymphocytes characterized by the ability to kill tumor or virally infected cells, without prior sensitisation. Increased sensitivity to viral infections has been reported to be associated with altered NK cell numbers or functions in several individuals.
In vitro, NK cell functions can be triggered by the engagement of NK cell activating receptors, by cytokines, and by interaction with dendritic cells. All three mechanisms proved important
in vivo for resistance to murine cytomegalovirus infection. In particular, the activating receptor Ly49H plays a key role through recognition of the viral MHC‐like molecule m157. Ly49H triggering induces NK cell effector functions
in vitro and proliferation of Ly49H
in vivo. In humans, recent observations also support the involvement of human NK cell activating receptors in the control of viral infections. Understanding of the molecular mechanisms for NK cell antiviral activity, and of viral escape strategies, should help to develop new therapeutic approaches against viral infections.