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Tumor-Infiltrating NK Cells

by Peter Delves, PhD
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    Natural killer cells were originally identified by their ability to kill tumor cells. We now know that there are tumor infiltrating natural killer cells that enter into tumors. They respond to stress or abnormal cells. And the balance of the activating and inhibitory receptors determines the outcome of an encounter with a natural killer cell. So natural killer cells have on their cell surface a mixture of activating and inhibitory receptors. They’ll have several activating receptors and several inhibitory receptors. The inhibitory receptors recognize MHC Class I which is present on the cell surface of all normal cells. The activating receptors recognize a number of different molecules that are also normally present on all normal cells. The activating receptors send signals into the cell, and so do the inhibitory receptors. Tumors for a variety of reasons often stop expressing MHC Class I. And because this is a molecule that is normally present on all nucleated cells, the natural killer cells have learnt to recognize the absence of MHC Class I which we often refer to as missing self. These NK cells can recognize that as being a marker that something weird is going on, something abnormal is going on with this cell, perhaps it’s a tumor cell. And there is a lack of stimulation through the inhibitory receptors, because they recognize Class I. If there’s no Class I, there can’t be any stimulation through the inhibitory receptors. And the major response is through the activating receptor which activates the NK cell to kill the tumor cell. However, some tumor cells will maintain expression of MHC Class I but up-regulate the ligands for the activating receptors. So although there is still an inhibitory signal going into the NK cell, there is a much more powerful signal coming from the activating receptors...

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Tumor-Infiltrating NK Cells by Peter Delves, PhD is from the course Tumor Immunology. It contains the following chapters:

    • Tumor-Infiltrating NK Cells
    • Why Do Tumors not Succumb to the Immune Response?

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. MHC class I
    2. MHC class II
    3. CD4
    4. CD8
    5. KARs
    1. Inhibitory receptors ensure that NK cells do not attack self, Activating receptors ensure that NK cells can attack damaged/abnormal cells that express MHC
    2. Inhibitory and Activating receptors allow for regulation by the immune system
    3. Inhibitory receptors ensure that any cell expressing MHC cannot be attacked by NK cells
    4. Activating receptors ensure that the immune response can be up-regulated in the presence of a cell that does not express MHC
    5. Activating receptors respond directly to T cell signals
    1. IDO
    2. Bcl-2
    3. DAMPs
    4. B7
    5. KARs

    Author of lecture Tumor-Infiltrating NK Cells

     Peter Delves, PhD

    Peter Delves, PhD


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