NK cells play a critical role in host defense against viruses. In this study, we investigated the role of NKG2D in the expansion of NK cells after mouse CMV (MCMV) infection. Wild-type and NKG2D-deficient (Klrk1-/- ) Ly49H+ NK cells proliferated robustly when infected with MCMV strains engineered to allow expression of NKG2D ligands, which enhanced the response of wild-type NK cells. Naive NK cells exclusively express NKG2D-L, which pairs only with DAP10, whereas NKG2D-S expressed by activated NK cells pairs with DAP10 and DAP12, similar to Ly49H. However, NKG2D alone was unable to drive robust expansion of Ly49H- NK cells when mice were infected with these MCMV strains, likely because NKG2D-S was only transiently expressed postinfection. These findings demonstrate that NKG2D augments Ly49H-dependent proliferation of NK cells; however, NKG2D signaling alone is inadequate for expansion of NK cells, likely due to only transient expression of the NKG2D-DAP12 complex.
Copyright © 2017 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.