Recent studies demonstrate that natural killer (NK) cells have adaptive immune features. Here, we investigated the role of the costimulatory molecule DNAM-1 in the differentiation of NK cells in a mouse model of cytomegalovirus (MCMV) infection. Antibody blockade of DNAM-1 suppressed the expansion of MCMV-specific Ly49H(+) cells during viral infection and inhibited the generation of memory NK cells. Similarly, DNAM-1-deficient (Cd226(-/-)) Ly49H(+) NK cells exhibited intrinsic defects in expansion and differentiation into memory cells. Src-family tyrosine kinase Fyn and serine-threonine protein kinase C isoform eta (PKCη) signaling through DNAM-1 played distinct roles in the generation of MCMV-specific effector and memory NK cells. Thus, cooperative signaling through DNAM-1 and Ly49H are required for NK cell-mediated host defense against MCMV infection.
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