Factors regulating the cytotoxic activity of the human natural killer cell line, NK-92

J Hematother Stem Cell Res. 2001 Jun;10(3):369-83. doi: 10.1089/152581601750288975.


NK-92, a highly cytotoxic, interleukin-2 (IL-2)-dependent human natural killer (NK) cell line, has been of interest for basic and translational research. We report on a comprehensive analysis of NK-92 for factors implicated in NK cytotoxicity to elucidate factors underlying NK-92's high cytolytic activity and target range. Thus, we hope to develop a method to identify patients best suited to NK-92 immunotherapy. In addition, as a model system, we hope to increase understanding of the basis for the elevated activity exhibited by activated NK (ANK) cells. NK-92 exhibits an unusual receptor expression profile, expressing a relatively large number of activating (NKp30, NKp46, 2B4, NKGD, E, CD28) receptors. Conversely, it expresses few inhibitory receptors (NKGA/B, low levels of KIR2DL4, ILT-2), lacking most of the killer inhibitory receptors (KIRs) clonally expressed on normal NK cells. In addition, NK-92 expresses high levels of molecules involved in the perforin-granzyme cytolytic pathway as well as additional cytotoxic effector molecules including tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-superfamily members FasL, TRAIL, TWEAK, TNF-alpha, indicating the ability to kill via alternative mechanisms. NK-92 also expresses other molecules implicated immune effector cell regulation (CD80, CD86, CD40L, TRANCE) whose relevance in NK killing is unclear. This study provides initial data to develop a method to identify NK-92 susceptible cells (cells expressing ligands for NK-92 activating receptors ie CD48 for 2B4 and CD80/86 for CD28). Furthermore, this work suggests mechanisms that may contribute to ANK cell activity, including modulation of receptor expression to favor activation, up-regulation of cytotoxic effector molecules, and acquisition of new cytolytic pathways.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / physiology
  • Cell Line
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Lectins
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / pathology
  • Multigene Family
  • Receptors, Immunologic / physiology
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / physiology


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Lectins
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha