Discrimination between the main activating and inhibitory killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptor positive natural killer cell subsets using newly characterized monoclonal antibodies

Immunology. 2009 Oct;128(2):172-84. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2567.2009.03085.x.


Natural killer (NK) cells are key components of the innate anti-viral and anti-tumour immune responses. NK cell function is regulated by the interaction of killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) with human leucocyte antigen (HLA) class I molecules. In this study, we report on the generation of KIR-specific antibodies allowing for discrimination between activating and inhibitory KIR. For this purpose, BALB/c mice were immunized with human KIR2DS2 recombinant protein. The precise specificity of KIR2DS2-specific clones was determined on KIR-transfected BW cells and KIR-genotyped NK cells. When used in combination with EB6 (KIR2DL1/2DS1) or GL183 (KIR2DL2/2DL3/2DS2), two KIR-specific monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), 8C11 (specific for KIR2DL1/2DL2/2DL3/2DS2) and 1F12 (specific for KIR2DL3/2DS2), discriminated activating KIR2DS1 (8C11(-) EB6(+)) from inhibitory KIR2DL1 (8C11(+) GL183(-)) and KIR2DL2 (1F12(-) GL183(+)), while excluding the main HLA-Cw-specific KIR. Using these mAbs, KIR2DS1 was shown to be expressed on the surface of NK cells from all individuals genotyped as KIR2DS1(+) (n = 23). Moreover, KIR2DS1 and KIR2DL1 were independently expressed on NK cells. We also determined the amino acid position recognized by the 8C11 and 1F12 mAbs, which revealed that some KIR2DL1 allele-encoded proteins are not recognized by 8C11. Because most available anti-KIR mAbs recognize both inhibitory and activating forms of KIR, these newly characterized antibodies should help assess the expression of activating and inhibitory KIR and their functional relevance to NK biology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology*
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Base Sequence
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Hybridomas
  • Immunization
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Receptors, KIR / genetics
  • Receptors, KIR / immunology*
  • Receptors, KIR2DL1 / immunology
  • Receptors, KIR2DL3 / immunology
  • Sequence Alignment


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • KIR2DL1 protein, human
  • KIR2DL3 protein, human
  • KIR2DS2 protein, human
  • Receptors, KIR
  • Receptors, KIR2DL1
  • Receptors, KIR2DL3