The immune system can be divided into innate and adaptive components that differ in their rate and mode of cellular activation, with innate immune cells being the first responders to invading pathogens. Recent advances in the identification and characterization of innate lymphoid cells have revealed reiterative developmental programs that result in cells with effector fates that parallel those of adaptive lymphoid cells and are tailored to effectively eliminate a broad spectrum of pathogenic challenges. However, activation of these cells can also be associated with pathologies such as autoimmune disease. One major distinction between innate and adaptive immune system cells is the constitutive expression of ID proteins in the former and inducible expression in the latter. ID proteins function as antagonists of the E protein transcription factors that play critical roles in lymphoid specification as well as B- and T-lymphocyte development. In this review, we examine the transcriptional mechanisms controlling the development of innate lymphocytes, including natural killer cells and the recently identified innate lymphoid cells (ILC1, ILC2, and ILC3), and innate-like lymphocytes, including natural killer T cells, with an emphasis on the known requirements for the ID proteins.
Keywords: T-helper cells; cell differentiation; natural killer T cells; natural killer cells; transcription factors.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.