Variegated expression of 6 inhibitory HLA class I-specific receptors on primary NK cells was studied using high-dimension flow cytometry in 58 humans to understand the structure and function of NK-cell repertoires. Sixty-four subsets expressing all possible receptor combinations were present in each repertoire, and the frequency of receptor-null cells varied among the donors. Enhancement in missing-self response between NK subsets varied substantially where subset responses were defined by donor KIR/HLA allotypes, reflecting the differences in interaction between inhibitory receptors and their ligands. This contrasted to the enhancement conferred by NKG2A, which was constant and of intermediate strength. We infer a mechanism that modulates frequencies of the NK subsets displaying diverse levels of missing-self response, a system that reduces the presence of KIR-expressing subsets that display either too strong or too weak a response and effectively replaces them with NKG2A-expressing cells in the repertoire. Through this high-resolution analysis of inhibitory receptor expression, 5 types of NK-cell repertoire were defined by their content of NKG2A+/NKG2A- cells, frequency of receptor-null cells, and degree of KIR receptor coexpression. The analyses provide new perspective on how personalized human NK-cell repertoires are structured.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cell Biology