Natural Killer (NK) cells are cytotoxic lymphocytes critical to the innate immune system. We found that germline deficiency of NF-κB c-Rel results in a marked decrease in cytotoxic function of NK cells, both in vitro and in vivo, with no significant differences in the stages of NK cell development. We found that c-Rel binds to the promoters of perforin and granzyme B, two key proteins required for NK cytotoxicity, and controls their expression. We generated a NK cell specific c-Rel conditional knockout to study NK cell intrinsic role of c- Rel and found that both global and conditional c-Rel deficiency leads to decreased perforin and granzyme B expression and thereby cytotoxic function. We also confirmed the role of c-Rel in perforin and granzyme B expression in human NK cells. c-Rel reconstitution rescued perforin and granzyme B expressions in c-Rel deficient NK cells and restored their cytotoxic function. Our results show a previously unknown role of c-Rel in transcriptional regulation of perforin and granzyme B expressions and control of NK cell cytotoxic function.
Keywords: NF-κB c-Rel; NK cell; cytotoxicity; granzyme; perforin (Prf1).
Copyright © 2021 Vicioso, Wong, Roy, Das, Zhang, Ramakrishnan and Parameswaran.