Formation and function of the lytic NK-cell immunological synapse

Nat Rev Immunol. 2008 Sep;8(9):713-25. doi: 10.1038/nri2381.


The natural killer (NK)-cell immunological synapse is the dynamic interface formed between an NK cell and its target cell. Formation of the NK-cell immunological synapse involves several distinct stages, from the initiation of contact with a target cell to the directed delivery of lytic-granule contents for target-cell lysis. Progression through the individual stages is regulated, and this tight regulation underlies the precision with which NK cells select and kill susceptible target cells (including virally infected cells and cancerous cells) that they encounter during their routine surveillance of the body.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Disease / genetics
  • Humans
  • Immunological Synapses / immunology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / cytology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Models, Immunological