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The Role of Natural Killer Cells in the Defense against Listeriamonocytogenes Lessons from a Rat ModelNaper C.b · Shegarfi H.a · Inngjerdingen M.b · Rolstad B.a
aDepartment of Anatomy, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Oslo, and bInstitute of Immunology, Oslo University Hospital, Rikshospitalet, Oslo, Norway Corresponding Author
Dr. Bent Rolstad
Department of Anatomy, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences
University of Oslo
NO–0316 Oslo (Norway)
Tel. +47 2285 1212, E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Ly49 receptors in rodents, like killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors in humans, regulate natural killer (NK) cell activity. Although inhibitory Ly49 receptors clearly recognize classical major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I) molecules, the role for the activating Ly49 receptors has been less well understood. Here, we discuss recent data from a rat model for listeriosis. Rats depleted of NK cells, or more specifically the Ly49 receptor-bearing cells, showed increased bacterial loads in their spleen. Athymic nude rats with no functional T cells but increased numbers of Ly49-expressing NK cells were more resistant to infection, indicating a central role of NK cells in early immune defense against Listeria in this species. Listeria infection of macrophages or enteric epithelial cells led to upregulation of MHC-I, including nonclassical (Ib) molecules not regularly recognized by T cells. We have shown that activating Ly49 receptors are more efficiently stimulated when binding to upregulated class Ib antigens on infected cells. From this we postulate that activating Ly49 receptors may have a sentinel function in the early immune response against Listeria in detecting diseased cells ‘flagged’ by increased MHC-Ib expression.
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