Rat spleen dendritic cells express natural killer cell receptor protein 1 (NKR-P1) and have cytotoxic activity to select targets via a Ca2+-dependent mechanism

J Exp Med. 1997 Aug 4;186(3):467-72. doi: 10.1084/jem.186.3.467.


Dendritic cells (DC) are a subset of leukocytes whose major function is antigen presentation. We investigated the phenotype and function of enriched (95-98.5%) rat DC. We show that both spleen and thymus DC express the natural killer cell receptor protein 1 (NKR-P1) as a disulfide linked homodimer of 60 kD. Freshly isolated DC express a low level of NKR-P1, which is strongly upregulated after overnight culture. Spleen, but not thymus DC, were able to kill the NK-sensitive YAC-1 cell line in vitro, and since this killing was Ca2+ dependent, a Fas ligand-Fas interaction was probably not involved. Besides their potent antigen-presenting function, DC can thus be cytotoxic for some tumor targets.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / chemistry
  • Antigens, Surface / biosynthesis*
  • Antigens, Surface / immunology
  • Antigens, Surface / isolation & purification
  • Calcium / immunology
  • Calcium / physiology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytotoxicity Tests, Immunologic
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / metabolism*
  • Lectins, C-Type*
  • Male
  • NK Cell Lectin-Like Receptor Subfamily B
  • Precipitin Tests
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Lew
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, IgG / biosynthesis*
  • Spleen
  • Up-Regulation / immunology


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, Surface
  • Lectins, C-Type
  • NK Cell Lectin-Like Receptor Subfamily B
  • Receptors, IgG
  • Calcium