Transduction of cytotoxic signals in natural killer cells: a general model of fine tuning between activatory and inhibitory pathways in lymphocytes

Immunol Rev. 1997 Feb;155:205-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-065x.1997.tb00953.x.


NK-cells are large granular lymphocytes, which are capable of exerting two major types of effector function, cell cytotoxicity and lymphokine secretion. NK-cells can exert cell cytotoxicity in one of two ways. First, NK-cells are able to recognize and to induce the lysis of antibody-coated target cells during antibody-dependent cell cytotoxicity (ADCC). Second, during natural cytotoxicity NK-cells are also able to recognize and to induce the lysis of a variety of target cells, including primarily virus-infected cells as well as tumor cells. Recently, a novel mechanism has been elucidated which controls NK-cell-activation programs and which is based on the cell surface expression of killer-cell inhibitory receptors (KIR). We will review here the molecular dissection of this inhibitory signalling pathway which utilizes immunoreceptor tyrosine-based inhibition motifs (ITIM) expressed in KIR intracytoplasmic domain. We will also show that this strategy used by NK-cells to regulate their effector functions is a general decision mechanism which exists not only in T- and B-lymphocytes, but also in a variety of other hematopoietic cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic*
  • Humans
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / metabolism*
  • Lymphocyte Activation*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Receptors, Immunologic / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / immunology*


  • Receptors, Immunologic

Associated data

  • GENBANK/L41269
  • GENBANK/L41270
  • GENBANK/L76661
  • GENBANK/L76662
  • GENBANK/L76663
  • GENBANK/L76664
  • GENBANK/L76665
  • GENBANK/L76666
  • GENBANK/L76667
  • GENBANK/L76668
  • GENBANK/L76669
  • GENBANK/L76670
  • GENBANK/L76672
  • GENBANK/M25812
  • GENBANK/U24074
  • GENBANK/U24075
  • GENBANK/U24076
  • GENBANK/U24077
  • GENBANK/U24078
  • GENBANK/U30272
  • GENBANK/U31416
  • GENBANK/U33328
  • GENBANK/U50546
  • GENBANK/X89892
  • GENBANK/X89893
  • GENBANK/X93595
  • GENBANK/X94262
  • GENBANK/X94373
  • GENBANK/X94374
  • GENBANK/X94609