Patrolling Monocytes Control NK Cell Expression of Activating and Stimulatory Receptors to Curtail Lung Metastases

J Immunol. 2020 Jan 1;204(1):192-198. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1900998. Epub 2019 Nov 25.


The role of nonclassical, patrolling monocytes in lung tumor metastasis and their functional relationships with other immune cells remain poorly defined. Contributing to these gaps in knowledge is a lack of cellular specificity in commonly used approaches for depleting nonclassical monocytes. To circumvent these limitations and study the role of patrolling monocytes in melanoma metastasis to lungs, we generated C57BL/6J mice in which the Nr4a1 superenhancer E2 subdomain is ablated (E2 -/- mice). E2 -/- mice lack nonclassical patrolling monocytes but preserve classical monocyte and macrophage numbers and functions. Interestingly, NK cell recruitment and activation were impaired, and metastatic burden was increased in E2 -/-mice. E2 -/- mice displayed unchanged "educated" (CD11b+CD27+) and "terminally differentiated" (CD11b+CD27-) NK cell frequencies. These perturbations were accompanied by reduced expression of stimulatory receptor Ly49D on educated NK cells and increased expression of inhibitory receptor NKG2A/CD94 on terminally differentiated NK cells. Thus, our work demonstrates that patrolling monocytes play a critical role in preventing lung tumor metastasis via NK cell recruitment and activation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Monocytes / immunology*
  • NK Cell Lectin-Like Receptor Subfamily C / immunology*


  • NK Cell Lectin-Like Receptor Subfamily C