1932

Abstract

Natural killer (NK) cells have vital functions in human immunity and reproduction. In the innate and adaptive immune responses to infection, particularly by viruses, NK cells respond by secreting inflammatory cytokines and killing infected cells. In reproduction, NK cells are critical for genesis of the placenta, the organ that controls the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the growing fetus. Controlling NK cell functions are interactions of HLA class I with inhibitory NK cell receptors. First evolved was the conserved interaction of HLA-E with CD94:NKG2A; later established were diverse interactions of HLA-A, -B, and -C with killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors. Characterizing the latter interactions is rapid evolution, which distinguishes human populations and all species of higher primate. Driving this evolution are the different and competing selections imposed by pathogens on NK cell–mediated immunity and by the constraints of human reproduction on NK cell–mediated placentation. Promoting rapid evolution is independent segregation of polymorphic receptors and ligands throughout human populations.

Keyword(s): evolutionKIRMHCNK cellsreproduction
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2018-04-26
2024-06-20
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