NKG2D CARs as cell therapy for cancer

Cancer J. Mar-Apr 2014;20(2):156-9. doi: 10.1097/PPO.0000000000000029.


The NKG2D cell receptor and its ligands have attracted considerable interest as a potential strategy to attack tumor cells. NKG2D ligands are expressed on most types of tumors, and they demonstrate relative selectivity of ligand expression on tumor cells compared to healthy cells. Several different variants of NKG2D-based chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) have been developed, and extensive in vivo mechanistic studies performed demonstrated that cytotoxicity and cytokines are important for the efficacy NKG2D CAR adoptive T-cell therapy. NKG2D CARs target tumor cells, and they also target immunosuppressive cells within the tumor microenvironment. Under certain conditions, NKG2D ligand expression can be found on nontumor tissue, so potential off-tumor toxicity remains. In this article, we review the use of NKG2D as a basis for CAR targeting of tumors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive*
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • NK Cell Lectin-Like Receptor Subfamily K / genetics
  • NK Cell Lectin-Like Receptor Subfamily K / immunology*
  • NK Cell Lectin-Like Receptor Subfamily K / therapeutic use
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / immunology
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / isolation & purification
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / therapeutic use*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • KLRK1 protein, human
  • NK Cell Lectin-Like Receptor Subfamily K
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell