The Natural Killer Group 2D (NKG2D) receptor plays an important role in protecting the host from infections and cancer. By recognizing ligands induced on infected or tumor cells, NKG2D modulates lymphocyte activation and promotes immunity to eliminate ligand-expressing cells. Because these ligands are not widely expressed on healthy adult tissue, NKG2D ligands may present a useful target for immunotherapeutic approaches in cancer. Novel therapies targeting NKG2D ligands for the treatment of cancer have shown preclinical success and are poised to enter into clinical trials. In this review, the NKG2D receptor and its ligands are discussed in the context of cancer, infection, and autoimmunity. In addition, therapies targeting NKG2D ligands in cancer are also reviewed.
Keywords: CD8+ T cells; MICA; NK cells; Rae-1; immunotherapy.