Immunobiology of human NKG2D and its ligands

Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2006;298:121-38. doi: 10.1007/3-540-27743-9_6.


The NKG2D-DAP10 receptor complex activates natural killer (NK) cells and costimulates effector T cell subsets upon engagement of ligands that can be conditionally expressed under physiologically harmful conditions such as microbial infections and malignancies. These characteristics have given rise to the widely embraced concept of immunorecognition of "induced or damaged self," complementing the "missing self" paradigm that is represented by MHC class I allotypes and their interactions with inhibitory receptors on NK cells. However, this notion may only be partially sustainable, as various patterns of constitutive tissue distributions have become apparent among members of one NKG2D ligand family. This review summarizes the biological properties of NKG2D and its ligands and discusses the interactions and regulation of these molecules with emphasis of their significance in microbial infections, tumor immunology, and autoimmune disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / genetics
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Infections / immunology
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Ligands
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Models, Immunological
  • NK Cell Lectin-Like Receptor Subfamily K
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Receptors, Immunologic / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Natural Killer Cell
  • Signal Transduction / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • Virus Diseases / immunology


  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • KLRK1 protein, human
  • Ligands
  • MHC class I-related chain A
  • MICB antigen
  • NK Cell Lectin-Like Receptor Subfamily K
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • Receptors, Natural Killer Cell