The MHC class I-chain-related proteins (MICs) and the UL16-binding proteins (ULBPs) are inducible stress response molecules that work as activators of a specific receptor, NKG2D, which is expressed on effector cells, such as NK cells and subsets of T cells. In this study, we sought to explore the biological significance of NKG2D ligands in human neoplasms by comprehensively examining the immunohistochemical expression profile of NKG2D ligands in a variety of human epithelial neoplasms. Following careful validation of the immunohistochemical specificity and availability of anti-human ULBP antibodies for formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) materials, the expression of NKG2D ligands was analyzed in FFPE tissue microarrays comprising 22 types of epithelial neoplastic tissue with their non-neoplastic counterpart from various organs. Hierarchical cluster analysis demonstrated a positive relationship among ULBP2/6, ULBP3, ULBP1, and ULBP5, whose expression patterns were similar across all of the neoplastic tissues examined. In contrast, MICA/B, as well as ULBP4, did not appear to be related to any other ligand. These expression profiles of NKG2D ligands in human neoplasms based on well-validated specific antibodies, followed by hierarchical cluster analysis, should help to clarify some functional aspects of these molecules in cancer biology, and also provide a path to the development of novel tumor-type-specific treatment strategies.
Keywords: NKG2D ligands; epithelial neoplasms; immunohistochemistry.
© The Author(s) 2015.