Genetically linked C-type lectin-related ligands for the NKRP1 family of natural killer cell receptors

Nat Immunol. 2003 Aug;4(8):801-7. doi: 10.1038/ni954. Epub 2003 Jul 13.


The natural killer (NK) gene complex (NKC) encodes orphan lectin-like NK cell receptors that may explain uncharacterized NK cell specificities. Unlike other NKC-encoded receptors that recognize molecules with major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I folds, here we show that mouse Nkrp1d and Nkrp1f bind specific C-type lectin-related (Clr) molecules. Nkrp1d mediated inhibition when recognizing Clrb, a molecule expressed in dendritic cells and macrophages. Nkrp1 (official gene name, Klrb1) and Clr are intertwined in a genetically conserved NKC region showing recombination suppression, reminiscent of plant self-incompatibility loci. Thus, these findings broaden the 'missing-self' hypothesis from solely involving MHC class I to including related NK cell receptors for lectin-like ligands, and reflect genetic strategies for biological self-recognition processes in other species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Surface / genetics
  • Antigens, Surface / metabolism*
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism
  • Genetic Linkage
  • Killer Cells, Natural / metabolism*
  • Lectins, C-Type / genetics
  • Lectins, C-Type / metabolism*
  • Ligands
  • Mice
  • NK Cell Lectin-Like Receptor Subfamily B


  • Antigens, Surface
  • Klrb1b protein, mouse
  • Lectins, C-Type
  • Ligands
  • NK Cell Lectin-Like Receptor Subfamily B