Preferential survival of CD8 T and NK cells expressing high levels of CD94

J Immunol. 2003 Feb 15;170(4):1737-45. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.170.4.1737.


The Qa-1(b)/Qdm tetramer binds to CD94/NKG2 receptors expressed at high levels on approximately 50% of murine NK cells. Although very few CD8 T cells from naive mice express CD94/NKG2 receptors, approximately 50% of CD8 T cells taken from mice undergoing a secondary response against Listeria monocytogenes (LM) are CD94(high) and bind the tetramer. Although CD94(int) NK cells do not bind the tetramer, CD94(int) CD8 T cells do, and this binding is dependent on the CD8 coreceptor. We found that the extent of apoptosis in CD8 T and NK cells was inversely related to the expression of CD94, with lower levels of apoptosis seen in CD94(high) cells after 1-3 days of culture. The difference in CD8 T cell survival was evident as early as 6 h after culture and persisted until nearly all the CD94(neg/int) cells were apoptotic by 48 h. In contrast, expression of inhibitory Ly-49A,G2,C/I molecules was associated with higher levels of apoptosis. Cross-linking CD94/NKG2 receptors on CD8 T cells from a mouse undergoing an LM infection further reduced the percentage of apoptotic cells on the CD94-expressing populations, while cross-linking Ly-49I had no effect on CD8 T cells expressing Ly-49I. Cross-linking CD3 on CD8 T cells from a mouse undergoing a secondary LM infection increases the extent of apoptosis, but this is prevented by cross-linking CD94/NKG2 receptors at the same time. Similar results were observed with NK cells in that the CD94(high) population displayed less apoptosis than CD94(int) cells after 1-3 days in culture. Therefore, the expression of CD94/NKG2 is correlated with a lower level of apoptosis and may play an important role in the maintenance of CD8 T and NK cells.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / metabolism
  • Antigens, CD / biosynthesis*
  • Antigens, CD / immunology
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism
  • Antigens, Ly / biosynthesis
  • Antigens, Ly / immunology
  • Antigens, Ly / metabolism
  • Apoptosis / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / cytology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / microbiology
  • Cell Survival / immunology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cross-Linking Reagents / metabolism
  • Killer Cells, Natural / cytology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / metabolism
  • Killer Cells, Natural / microbiology
  • Lectins, C-Type / biosynthesis*
  • Lectins, C-Type / immunology
  • Lectins, C-Type / metabolism
  • Listeria monocytogenes / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • NK Cell Lectin-Like Receptor Subfamily D
  • Receptors, Immunologic / biosynthesis*
  • Receptors, Immunologic / immunology
  • Receptors, Immunologic / metabolism
  • Receptors, Mitogen / biosynthesis*
  • Receptors, Mitogen / immunology
  • Receptors, Mitogen / metabolism
  • Receptors, NK Cell Lectin-Like
  • Receptors, Natural Killer Cell


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Ly
  • Cross-Linking Reagents
  • Klrd1 protein, mouse
  • Lectins, C-Type
  • NK Cell Lectin-Like Receptor Subfamily D
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • Receptors, Mitogen
  • Receptors, NK Cell Lectin-Like
  • Receptors, Natural Killer Cell