CMV Primes Functional Alternative Signaling in Adaptive Δg NK Cells but Is Subverted by Lentivirus Infection in Rhesus Macaques

Cell Rep. 2018 Dec 4;25(10):2766-2774.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.11.020.


Despite burgeoning evidence demonstrating the adaptive properties of natural killer (NK) cells, mechanistic data explaining these phenomena are lacking. Following antibody sensitization, NK cells lacking the Fc receptor (FcR) signaling chain (Δg) acquire adaptive features, including robust proliferation, multifunctionality, rapid killing, and mobilization to sites of virus exposure. Using the rhesus macaque model, we demonstrate the systemic distribution of Δg NK cells expressing memory features, including downregulated Helios and Eomes. Furthermore, we find that Δg NK cells abandon typical γ-chain/Syk in lieu of CD3ζ-Zap70 signaling. FCγRIIIa (CD16) density, mucosal homing, and function are all coupled to this alternate signaling, which in itself requires priming by rhesus cytomegalovirus (rhCMV). Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infections further expand gut-homing adaptive NK cells but result in pathogenic suppression of CD3ζ-Zap70 signaling and function. Herein, we provide a mechanism of virus-dependent alternative signaling that may explain the acquisition of adaptive features by primate NK cells and could be targeted for future vaccine or curative therapies.

Keywords: CMV; HIV; SIV; innate immunity; natural killer cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity*
  • Alternative Splicing / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Cytomegalovirus / physiology*
  • Female
  • Killer Cells, Natural / metabolism*
  • Lentivirus / physiology*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Mucous Membrane / immunology
  • Receptors, Fc / metabolism*
  • Simian Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / immunology
  • Simian Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / virology
  • Simian Immunodeficiency Virus / immunology


  • Receptors, Fc