Erroneous expression of NKG2D on granulocytes detected by phycoerythrin-conjugated clone 149810 antibody

Cytometry B Clin Cytom. 2022 May;102(3):228-238. doi: 10.1002/cyto.b.22001. Epub 2021 Mar 21.


Background: The activating Natural killer group 2 member D (NKG2D) receptor is typically expressed on NK cells, CD8 T lymphocytes, γδ T cells and small subsets of CD4 T lymphocytes. During the course of an extensive flow cytometry phenotyping of immune cells in the peripheral blood of patients with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) we noticed an unexpected expression of NKG2D receptor on granulocytes using the phycoerythrin (PE)-conjugated clone 149810 antibody.

Methods: Peripheral blood samples from 35 patients with GBM and 22 age-matched healthy control (HC) donors were analyzed using flow cytometry, imaging cytometry and real-time quantitative reverse transcription PCR to validate the observed expression of NKG2D receptor on myeloid cells.

Results: Reactivity with PE-149810 was mostly observed on granulocytes from GBM patients on dexamethasone treatment where it correlated with inferior survival rates. Surprisingly, such NKG2D expression on granulocytes was not observed using the allophycocyanin (APC)-conjugate of the same clone 149810 antibody or an indirect staining procedure with unconjugated clone 149810 antibody. Moreover, the PE-conjugate of a different anti-NKG2D clone (1D11) also did not stain granulocytes. Imaging cytometry indicated cell surface and intracellular localization of PE-149810 but not of PE-1D11 in granulocytes.

Conclusion: Our results uncover an erroneous and false positive reactivity of PE-labeled (but not of APC-labeled or unconjugated) anti-NKG2D antibody 149810 on granulocytes from dexamethasone-treated GBM patients and raise a note of caution for studies of NKG2D expression on non-lymphoid cells.

Keywords: cross-reactivity; false positive; flow cytometry; glioblastoma multiforme; granulocytes; natural killer group 2 member.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Clone Cells
  • Dexamethasone
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Granulocytes
  • Humans
  • NK Cell Lectin-Like Receptor Subfamily K*
  • Phycoerythrin*


  • NK Cell Lectin-Like Receptor Subfamily K
  • Phycoerythrin
  • Dexamethasone