The NK cell granule protein NKG7 regulates cytotoxic granule exocytosis and inflammation

Nat Immunol. 2020 Oct;21(10):1205-1218. doi: 10.1038/s41590-020-0758-6. Epub 2020 Aug 24.


Immune-modulating therapies have revolutionized the treatment of chronic diseases, particularly cancer. However, their success is restricted and there is a need to identify new therapeutic targets. Here, we show that natural killer cell granule protein 7 (NKG7) is a regulator of lymphocyte granule exocytosis and downstream inflammation in a broad range of diseases. NKG7 expressed by CD4+ and CD8+ T cells played key roles in promoting inflammation during visceral leishmaniasis and malaria-two important parasitic diseases. Additionally, NKG7 expressed by natural killer cells was critical for controlling cancer initiation, growth and metastasis. NKG7 function in natural killer and CD8+ T cells was linked with their ability to regulate the translocation of CD107a to the cell surface and kill cellular targets, while NKG7 also had a major impact on CD4+ T cell activation following infection. Thus, we report a novel therapeutic target expressed on a range of immune cells with functions in different immune responses.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Exocytosis
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Leishmania donovani / physiology*
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral / immunology*
  • Malaria / immunology*
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Plasmodium / physiology*
  • Secretory Vesicles / metabolism


  • Membrane Proteins
  • Nkg7 protein, mouse