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Volume 5, Pages 151-154
Directions in Science

Natural Cytotoxicity Receptors: Pattern Recognition and Involvement of Carbohydrates

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Health Sciences and Cancer Research Center, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva 84105, Israel

Received 5 January 2005; Revised 30 January 2005; Accepted 2 February 2005

Copyright © 2005 Angel Porgador.


Natural cytotoxicity receptors (NCRs), expressed by natural killer (NK) cells, trigger NK lysis of tumor and virus-infected cells on interaction with cell-surface ligands of these target cells. We have determined that viral hemagglutinins expressed on the surface of virus-infected cells are involved in the recognition by the NCRs, NKp44 and NKp46. Recognition of tumor cells by the NCRs NKp30 and NKp46 involves heparan sulfate epitopes expressed on the tumor cell membrane. Our studies provide new evidence for the identity of the ligands for NCRs and indicate that a broader definition should be applied to pathological patterns recognized by innate immune receptors. Since nonmicrobial endogenous carbohydrate structures contribute significantly to this recognition, there is an imperative need to develop appropriate tools for the facile sequencing of carbohydrate moieties.