KIR3DS1 directs NK cell-mediated protection against human adenovirus infections

Sci Immunol. 2021 Sep 17;6(63):eabe2942. doi: 10.1126/sciimmunol.abe2942. Epub 2021 Sep 17.


Human adenoviruses (HAdVs) are a major cause for disease in children, in particular after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT). Currently, effective therapies for HAdV infections in immunocompromised hosts are lacking. To decipher immune recognition of HAdV infection and determine new targets for immune-mediated control, we used an HAdV infection 3D organoid system, based on primary human intestinal epithelial cells. HLA-F, the functional ligand for the activating NK cell receptor KIR3DS1, was strongly up-regulated and enabled enhanced killing of HAdV5-infected cells in organoids by KIR3DS1+ NK cells. In contrast, HLA-A and HLA-B were significantly down-regulated in HAdV5-infected organoids in response to adenoviral E3/glycoprotein19K, consistent with evasion from CD8+ T cells. Immunogenetic analyses in a pediatric allo-HSCT cohort showed a reduced risk to develop severe HAdV disease and faster clearance of HAdV viremia in children receiving KIR3DS1+/HLA-Bw4+ donor cells compared with children receiving non–KIR3DS1+/HLA-Bw4+ cells. These findings identify the KIR3DS1/HLA-F axis as a new target for immunotherapeutic strategies against severe HAdV disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • A549 Cells
  • Adenovirus Infections, Human / immunology*
  • Adenoviruses, Human / immunology
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Receptors, KIR3DS1 / immunology*


  • KIR3DS1 protein, human
  • Receptors, KIR3DS1