Transcriptional regulation of NK cell receptors

Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2006;298:59-75. doi: 10.1007/3-540-27743-9_3.


The stochastic expression of individual members of NK cell receptor gene families on subsets of NK cells has attracted considerable interest in the transcriptional regulation of these genes. Each receptor gene can contain up to three separate promoters with distinct properties. The recent discovery that an upstream promoter can function as a probabilistic switch element in the Ly49 gene family has revealed a novel mechanism of variegated gene expression. An important question to be answered is whether or not the other NK cell receptor gene families contain probabilistic switches. The promoter elements currently identified in the Ly49, NKR-P1, CD94, NKG2A, and KIR gene families are described.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Ly / genetics
  • Humans
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / metabolism
  • Lectins, C-Type / genetics
  • Mice
  • Multigene Family
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Receptors, Immunologic / genetics*
  • Receptors, NK Cell Lectin-Like
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Antigens, Ly
  • Lectins, C-Type
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • Receptors, NK Cell Lectin-Like