Ly49 lectin-like receptors and killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) are structurally unrelated cell-surface glycoproteins that evolved independently to function as diverse NK cell receptors for MHC class I molecules. Comparison of primates and various domesticated animals has shown that species have either a diverse Ly49 or KIR gene family, but not both. In four pinniped species of wild marine carnivore, three seals and one sea lion, we find that Ly49 and KIR are each represented by single, orthologous genes that exhibit little polymorphism and are transcribed to express cell-surface protein. Pinnipeds are therefore species in which neither Ly49 nor KIR are polygenic but retain the ancestral single-copy state. Whereas pinniped Ly49 has been subject to purifying selection, we find evidence for positive selection on KIR3DL during pinniped evolution. This selection, which focused on the D0 domain and the stem, points to the functionality of the KIR and likely led to the sea lion’s loss of D0. In contrast to the dynamic and rapid evolution of the KIR and Ly49 genes in other species, the pinniped KIR and Ly49 have been remarkably stable during the > 33 million years since the last common ancestor of seals and sea lions. These results demonstrate that long-term survival of placental mammal species need not require a diverse system of either Ly49 or KIR NK-cell receptors.
Comparative Immunology; Comparative Evolution; Natural Killer Cells; Other Animals
The killer cell Ig-like receptors (KIR) of natural killer (NK) cells recognize major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I ligands and function in placental reproduction and immune defense against pathogens. During the evolution of monkeys, great apes and humans, an ancestral KIR3DL gene expanded to become a diverse and rapidly evolving gene family of four KIR lineages. Characterising the KIR locus are three framework regions, defining two intervals of variable gene-content. By analysis of four KIR haplotypes from two species of gibbon, we find that the smaller apes do not conform to these rules. Although diverse and irregular in structure, the gibbon haplotypes are unusually small, containing only two to five functional genes. Comparison with the predicted ancestral hominoid KIR haplotype indicates that modern gibbon KIR haplotypes were formed by a series of deletion events, which created new hybrid genes as well as eliminating ancestral genes. Of the three framework regions, only KIR3DL3 (lineage V), defining the 5’ end of the KIR locus, is present and intact on all gibbon KIR haplotypes. KIR2DL4 (lineage I) defining the central framework region has been a major target for elimination or inactivation, correlating with the absence of its putative ligand, MHC-G, in gibbons. Similarly, the MHC-C driven expansion of lineage III KIR genes in great apes has not occurred in gibbons because they lack MHC-C. Our results indicate that the selective forces shaping the size and organisation of the gibbon KIR locus differed from those acting upon the KIR of other hominoid species.
Comparative Immunology/Evolution; Reproductive Immunology; Natural Killer Cells; Cell Surface Molecules; MHC
Natural killer (NK) cells are circulating lymphocytes that function in innate immunity and placental reproduction. Regulating both development and function of NK cells is an array of variable and conserved receptors that interact with major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules. Families of lectin-like and immunoglobulin-like receptors are determined by genes in the natural killer (NKC) and leukocyte receptor (LRC) complexes, respectively. As a consequence of the strong, varying pressures on the immune and reproductive systems, NK cell receptors and their MHC class I ligands evolve rapidly, are highly diverse, and exhibit dramatic species-specific differences. The variable, polymorphic family of killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) that regulate human NK cell development and function evolved recently, from a single-copy gene during the evolution of simian primates. Our studies of KIR and MHC class I genes in representative species show how these two unlinked but functionally intertwined genetic complexes have co-evolved. In humans, combinations of KIR and HLA class I factors are associated with infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS, autoimmunity, reproductive success and the outcome of therapeutic transplantation. The extraordinary, and unanticipated, divergence of human NK cell receptors and MHC class I ligands from their mouse counterparts can in part explain the difficulties experienced in finding informative mouse models for human diseases. Non-human primate models have far greater potential, but to realize their promise will first require more complete definition of the genetics and function of KIR and MHC variation in non-human primate species, at a level comparable to that achieved for the human species.
Non-human primates; NK cells; KIR; MHC; innate immunity
Natural killer (NK) cells serve essential functions in immunity and reproduction. Diversifying these functions within individuals and populations are rapidly-evolving interactions between highly polymorphic major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I ligands and variable NK cell receptors. Specific to simian primates is the family of Killer cell Immunoglobulin-like Receptors (KIR), which recognize MHC class I and associate with a range of human diseases. Because KIR have considerable species-specificity and are lacking from common animal models, we performed extensive comparison of the systems of KIR and MHC class I interaction in humans and chimpanzees. Although of similar complexity, they differ in genomic organization, gene content, and diversification mechanisms, mainly because of human-specific specialization in the KIR that recognizes the C1 and C2 epitopes of MHC-B and -C. Humans uniquely focused KIR recognition on MHC-C, while losing C1-bearing MHC-B. Reversing this trend, C1-bearing HLA-B46 was recently driven to unprecedented high frequency in Southeast Asia. Chimpanzees have a variety of ancient, avid, and predominantly inhibitory receptors, whereas human receptors are fewer, recently evolved, and combine avid inhibitory receptors with attenuated activating receptors. These differences accompany human-specific evolution of the A and B haplotypes that are under balancing selection and differentially function in defense and reproduction. Our study shows how the qualitative differences that distinguish the human and chimpanzee systems of KIR and MHC class I predominantly derive from adaptations on the human line in response to selective pressures placed on human NK cells by the competing needs of defense and reproduction.
Natural killer (NK) cells are versatile lymphocytes that make essential contributions to immune defense and placental reproduction. Essential to NK cell development, diversification and function are variable families of surface receptors that recognize equally variable determinants of polymorphic major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules, better known as the tissue types matched in clinical organ transplantation. These ligand-receptor interactions evolve rapidly, exhibiting much species specificity and convergent evolution. Consequently, mice represent a poor model, because their receptors are so disparate from the independently evolved human counterparts that are restricted to simian primates. To identify unique and shared aspects of human NK cell biology, we have defined the genomics, population biology, and immunology of variable chimpanzee NK cell receptors and ligands to a level permitting accurate, informed comparison with the well-characterized human system. In both receptors and ligands there are dramatic, qualitative differences between humans and chimpanzees. We show these differences arose during human evolution from the last common human–chimpanzee ancestor, while the chimpanzee system remained relatively stable. That two so closely related species exhibit major differences in NK cell receptors and ligands testifies to the strong and varying selection imposed by the different demands and competing needs of defense and reproduction.
Killer Immunoglobulin-like Receptors (KIR) are essential immuno-surveillance molecules. They are expressed on natural killer and T cells, and interact with human leukocyte antigens. KIR genes are highly polymorphic and contribute vital variability to our immune system. Numerous KIR genes, belonging to five distinct lineages, have been identified in all primates examined thus far and shown to be rapidly evolving. Since few KIR remain orthologous between species, with only one of them, KIR2DL4, shown to be common to human, apes and monkeys, the evolution of the KIR gene family in primates remains unclear.
Using comparative analyses, we have identified the ancestral KIR lineage (provisionally named KIR3DL0) in primates. We show KIR3DL0 to be highly conserved with the identification of orthologues in human (Homo sapiens), common chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), gorilla (Gorilla gorilla), rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta) and common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus). We predict KIR3DL0 to encode a functional molecule in all primates by demonstrating expression in human, chimpanzee and rhesus monkey. Using the rhesus monkey as a model, we further show the expression profile to be typical of KIR by quantitative measurement of KIR3DL0 from an enriched population of natural killer cells.
One reason why KIR3DL0 may have escaped discovery for so long is that, in human, it maps in between two related leukocyte immunoglobulin-like receptor clusters outside the known KIR gene cluster on Chromosome 19. Based on genomic, cDNA, expression and phylogenetic data, we report a novel lineage of immunoglobulin receptors belonging to the KIR family, which is highly conserved throughout 50 million years of primate evolution.
We report the cloning and functional characterization in the mouse and the rat of a novel natural killer (NK) cell receptor termed KLRE1. The receptor is a type II transmembrane protein with a COOH-terminal lectin-like domain, and constitutes a novel KLR family. Rat Klre1 was mapped to the NK gene complex. By Northern blot and flow cytometry using newly generated monoclonal antibodies, KLRE1 was shown to be expressed by NK cells and a subpopulation of CD3+ cells, with pronounced interstrain variation. Western blot analysis indicated that KLRE1 can be expressed on the NK cell surface as a disulphide-linked dimer. The predicted proteins do not contain immunoreceptor tyrosine-based inhibitory motifs (ITIMs) or a positively charged amino acid in the transmembrane domain. However, in a redirected lysis assay, the presence of whole IgG, but not of F(ab′)2 fragments of a monoclonal anti-KLRE1 antibody inhibited lysis of Fc-receptor bearing tumor target cells. Moreover, the tyrosine phosphatase SHP-1 was coimmunoprecipitated with KLRE1 from pervanadate-treated interleukin 2–activated NK cells. Together, our results indicate that KLRE1 may form a functional heterodimer with an as yet unidentified ITIM-bearing partner that recruits SHP-1 to generate an inhibitory receptor complex.
natural immunity; lymphocytes; immunological receptors; molecular sequence data; protein-tyrosine-phosphatase
Natural killer (NK) cells express killer cell
inhibitory receptors (KIRs) that recognize polymorphic class I MHC
molecules. In the present study, we analyze the modulatory effect
of IL-2 alone or a combination of IL-12 with IL-18 on surface
expression of killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors KIR2DL1,
KIR2DL2, and KIR3DL2 in NK cells. Thus, it was found that IL-2
causes a significant increase in the proportion of cells with
given studied receptors. Stimulation by a mixture of IL-12 and
IL-18 caused significant increase in the fraction of cells with
the KIR2DL1 and KIR2DL2, however no significant change in the
percentage of cells with KIR3DL2 receptor on their surface was
observed. The results of the study show the presence of KIRs
on both resting and activated NK cells, this may suggest that KIRs
have also an important role in the regulatory processes after
activation of this subpopulation of cells.
Killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs) are a family of inhibitory and activatory receptors that are expressed by most natural killer (NK) cells. The KIR gene family is polymorphic: genomic diversity is achieved through differences in gene content and allelic polymorphism. The number of KIR loci has been reported to vary among individuals, resulting in different KIR haplotypes. In this study we report the genotypic structure of KIRs in 217 unrelated healthy Italian individuals from 22 immunogenetics laboratories, located in the northern, central and southern regions of Italy.
Two hundred and seventeen DNA samples were studied by a low resolution PCR-SSP kit designed to identify all KIR genes.
All 17 KIR genes were observed in the population with different frequencies than other Caucasian and non-Caucasian populations; framework genes KIR3DL3, KIR3DP1, KIR2DL4 and KIR3DL2 were present in all individuals. Sixty-five different profiles were found in this Italian population study. Haplotype A remains the most prevalent and genotype 1, with a frequency of 28.5%, is the most commonly observed in the Italian population.
The Italian Caucasian population shows polymorphism of the KIR gene family like other Caucasian and non-Caucasian populations. Although 64 genotypes have been observed, genotype 1 remains the most frequent as already observed in other populations. Such knowledge of the KIR gene distribution in populations is very useful in the study of associations with diseases and in selection of donors for haploidentical bone marrow transplantation.
Natural killer (NK) cells are essential for healthy aging. NK cell activation is controlled by MHC class I-specific CD94/NKG2 receptors and killer immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR). To assess NK cytotoxic function in isolation from MHC receptor engagement, we measured the ability of purified NK cells to kill mouse P815 target cells in the presence of anti-CD16 mAb. CD16-mediated cytotoxicity did not change with age, indicating that NK activation and cytotoxic granule release remained functional. We then investigated MHC class I receptor expression on NK cells. There was an age related decrease in CD94 and NKG2A expression and a reciprocal age related increase in KIR expression. NKG2A expression also declined with age on CD56+ T cells. CD94/NKG2A receptor function was proportional to expression, indicating that NK cell inhibitory signaling pathways were intact. NKG2A and KIR expression were complementary, suggesting that CD94/NKG2A function could substitute for inhibitory KIR function during polyclonal NK cell development in both young and elderly adults. The distinct roles of CD94/NKG2A and KIR receptors suggest that shifting MHC class I receptor expression patterns reflect age related changes in NK cell and CD56+ T cell turnover and function in vivo.
Natural killer; Aging; Receptor; MHC class I; KIR; CD94; NKG2A; Cytotoxicity; NKT
Natural killer (NK) cell function is regulated by NK cell receptors that bind classical MHC class I molecules or their structural relatives. The latter group includes self-ligands (MICA, RAE-I, H-60), as well as ligands encoded by viruses (UL18, m155, m157). Two distinct families of NK receptors have been identified: the immunoglobulin-like family (KIRs, LIRs) and the C-type lectin-like family (Ly49s, NKG2D, CD94/NKG2). Here we describe the crystal structures of NK receptors that have been determined to date, both in free form and bound to MHC class I or MHC class I-like molecules.
Natural killer cell receptor; MHC; Virus; Crystal structure
Natural killer (NK) cells express a repertoire of killer cell inhibitory receptors (KIR) for major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules. KIR specificity for MHC class I can be broad, as in the case of a single p70 KIR that can recognize several HLA-B allotypes, including HLA-B*2705. On the other hand, recognition of MHC class I can also be highly specific, as in the case of NK clones that recognize HLA-B*2705 in a peptide-specific manner. Most NK cells express multiple KIR sequences. To determine whether the broad and specific types of HLA-B recognition by NK cells reflect the use of different receptors or a property of a single KIR we analyzed the recognition of HLA-B*2705 by the p70 KIR-11, known to recognize several HLA-B allotypes. Vaccinia virus-mediated expression of KIR-11 in NK clones resulted in inhibition by HLA-B*2705 molecules on wild type but not on target cells deficient in the transporter for antigen presentation (TAP). Two peptides (FRYNGLIHR and RRSKEITVR) loaded onto HLA-B*2705 molecules on TAP-deficient cells provided protection from lysis by NK cells expressing KIR-11 but three other B27-specific peptides did not. As the five peptides bound to HLA-B*2705 with similar stability, these data demonstrate that a single KIR specific for several HLA-B allotypes recognizes a subset of peptides bound to HLA- B*2705.
In placental mammals, natural killer (NK) cells are a population of lymphocytes that make unique contributions to immune defence and reproduction, functions essential for survival of individuals, populations and species. Modulating these functions are conserved and variable NK-cell receptors that recognize epitopes of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules. In humans, for example, recognition of human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-E by the CD94:NKG2A receptor is conserved, whereas recognition of HLA-A, B and C by the killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs) is diversified. Competing demands of the immune and reproductive systems, and of T-cell and NK-cell immunity—combined with the segregation on different chromosomes of variable NK-cell receptors and their MHC class I ligands—drive an unusually rapid evolution that has resulted in unprecedented levels of species specificity, as first appreciated from comparison of mice and humans. Counterparts to human KIR are present only in simian primates. Observed in these species is the coevolution of KIR and the four MHC class I epitopes to which human KIR recognition is restricted. Unique to hominids is the emergence of the MHC-C locus as a supplier of specialized and superior ligands for KIR. This evolutionary trend is most highly elaborated in the chimpanzee. Unique to the human KIR locus are two groups of KIR haplotypes that are present in all human populations and subject to balancing selection. Group A KIR haplotypes resemble chimpanzee KIR haplotypes and are enriched for genes encoding KIR that bind HLA class I, whereas group B KIR haplotypes are enriched for genes encoding receptors with diminished capacity to bind HLA class I. Correlating with their balance in human populations, B haplotypes favour reproductive success, whereas A haplotypes favour successful immune defence. Evolution of the B KIR haplotypes is thus unique to the human species.
natural killer cells; major histocompatibility complex; balancing selection
Killer immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs) recognize class I major histocompatibility complex molecules and participate in the calibration of activation thresholds during human natural killer (NK) cell development. The stochastic expression pattern of the KIR repertoire follows the product rule, meaning that the probability of the coexpression of two or more different KIRs equals the product of the individual expression frequencies for those KIRs. The expression frequencies of individual KIRs are independent of major histocompatibility complex class I and are instead established and maintained by a dynamic, yet ill-defined, transcriptional program. Here, we review recent advances in our understanding of the architecture of the regulatory regions within KIR genes and discuss a potential role for non-coding RNA in KIR transcriptional regulation during NK cell development. Understanding the molecular mechanisms that underlie KIR expression may help guide us in the design of novel, rational strategies for the use of NK cells in transplantation and immunotherapy.
Natural killer cell; Killer immunoglobulin-like receptor; Transcription; Antisense RNA; Promoter
The innate immune system is the first line of defence in response to pathogen infection. Natural killer (NK) cells perform a vital role in this response with the ability to directly kill infected cells, produce cytokines, and cross-talk with the adaptive immune system. These effector functions are dependent on activation of NK cells which is determined by surface receptor interactions with ligands on target cells. Of these receptors, the polymorphic killer immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs), which interact with MHC class 1 (also highly polymorphic), are largely inhibitory, and exhibit substantial genetic diversity. The result is a significant variation of NK cell repertoire between individuals and also between populations, with a multitude of possible KIR:HLA combinations. As each KIR:ligand interaction may have differential effects on NK cell activation and inhibition, this diversity has important potential influences on the host response to infections. Genetic studies have demonstrated associations between specific KIR:ligand combinations and the outcome of viral (and other) infections, in particular hepatitis C and HIV infection. Detailed functional studies are not required to define the mechanisms underpinning these disease associations.
The killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) interact with major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I ligands to regulate the functions of natural killer cells and T cells. Like human leukocyte antigens class I, human KIR are highly variable and correlated with infection, autoimmunity, pregnancy syndromes, and transplantation outcome. Limiting the scope of KIR analysis is the low resolution, sensitivity, and speed of the established methods of KIR typing. In this study, we describe a first-generation single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-based method for typing the 17 human KIR genes and pseudogenes that uses analysis by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry. It is a high-throughput method that requires minute amounts of genomic DNA for discrimination of KIR genes with some allelic resolution. A study of 233 individuals shows that the results obtained by the SNP-based KIR/MALDI-TOF method are consistent with those obtained with the established sequence-specific oligonucleotide probe or sequence-specific polymerase chain reaction methods. The added sensitivity of the KIR/MALDI-TOF method allowed putative novel alleles of the KIR2DL1, KIR3DL1, KIR2DS5, and KIR2DL5 genes to be identified. Sequencing the KIR2DL5 variant proved it was a newly discovered allele, one that appears associated with Hispanic and Native American populations. This KIR/ MALDI-TOF method of KIR typing should facilitate population and disease-association studies that improve knowledge of the immunological functions of KIR–MHC class I interactions.
KIR; HLA; MALDI-TOF; Genotyping; SNP
The function of natural killer (NK) cells is controlled by several activating and inhibitory receptors, including the family of killer-immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs). One distinctive feature of KIRs is the extensive number of various haplotypes generated by the gene content within the KIR gene locus as well as by highly polymorphic members of the KIR gene family, namely KIR3DL1/S1. Within the KIR3DL1/S1 gene locus, KIR3DS1 represents a conserved allelic variant and displays other unique features in comparison to the highly polymorphic KIR3DL1 allele. KIR3DS1 is present in all human populations and belongs to the KIR haplotype group B. KIR3DS1 encodes for an activating receptor featuring the characteristic short cytoplasmic tail and a positively charged residue within the transmembrane domain, which allows recruitment of the ITAM-bearing adaptor molecule DAP12. Although HLA class I molecules are thought to represent natural KIR ligands, and HLA-Bw4 molecules serve as ligands for KIR3DL1, the ligand for KIR3DS1 still needs to be identified. Despite the lack of formal evidence for an interaction of KIR3DS1 with HLA-Bw4-I80 or any other HLA class I subtype to date, a growing number of associations between the presence of KIR3DS1 and the outcome of viral infections have been described. Especially, the potential protective role of KIR3DS1 in combination with HLA-Bw4-I80 in the context of HIV-1 infection has been studied intensively. In addition, a number of recent studies have associated the presence or absence of KIR3DS1 with the occurrence and outcome of some malignancies, autoimmune diseases, and graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). In this review, we summarize the present knowledge regarding the characteristics of KIRD3S1 and discuss its role in various human diseases.
KIR3DS1; HLA; HIV-1; killer-immunoglobulin-like receptors; NK cell
Modulation of human NK cell function by killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) and MHC class I is dominated by the bipartite interactions of inhibitory lineage III KIR with the C1 and C2 epitopes of HLA-C. In comparison, the ligand specificities and functional contributions of the activating lineage III KIR remain poorly understood. Using a robust, sensitive assay of KIR binding and a representative panel of 95 HLA class I targets, we show that KIR2DS1 binds C2 with ∼50% the avidity of KIR2DL1, whereas KIR2DS2, 2DS3 and 2DS5 have no detectable avidity for C1, C2 or any other HLA class I epitope. In contrast, the chimpanzee has activating C1 and C2-specific lineage III KIR with strong avidity, comparable to those of their paired inhibitory receptors. One variant of chimpanzee Pt-KIR3DS2, the activating C2-specific receptor, has the same avidity for C2 as inhibitory Pt-KIR3DL4, and a second variant has ∼73% the avidity. Chimpanzee Pt-KIR3DS6, the activating C1-specific receptor, has avidity for C1 that is ∼70% that of inhibitory Pt-KIR2DL6. In both humans and chimpanzees we observe an evolutionary trend toward reducing the avidity of the activating C1- and C2-specific receptors through selective acquisition of attenuating substitutions. However, the extent of attenuation has been extreme in humans as exemplified by KIR2DS2, an activating C1-specific receptor that has lost all detectable avidity for HLA class I. Supporting such elimination of activating C1-specific receptors as a uniquely human phenomenon is the presence of a high avidity activating C1-specific receptor (Gogo-KIR2DSa) in gorilla.
Natural Killer Cells; Cell Surface Molecules; Comparative Immunology/ Evolution; MHC
Numerous studies have suggested a role for natural killer (NK) cells in attenuation of HIV-1 disease progression via recognition by killer-cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs) of specific HLA class I molecules. The role of KIR and HLA class I has not been addressed in the context of maternal-infant HIV-1 transmission. KIR and HLA class I B and C genes from 224 HIV-1-infected mothers and 222 infants (72 infected and 150 uninfected) from South Africa were characterized. Although a number of significant associations were determined in both the total group and in the nevirapine (NVP) exposed group, the most significant findings involved KIR2DL2 and KIR2DL3 and HLA-C. KIR2DL2/KIR2DL3 was underrepresented in intrapartum (IP)-transmitting mothers compared to non-transmitting (NT) mothers (P = 0.008) and remained significant (P = 0.036) after correction for maternal viral load (MVL). Homozygosity for KIR2DL3 alone and in combination with HLA-C allotype heterozygosity (C1C2) was elevated in IP-transmitting mothers compared to NT mothers (P = 0.034 and P = 0.01 respectively), and after MVL correction (P = 0.033 and P = 0.027, respectively). In infants, KIR2DL3 in combination with its HLA-C1 ligand (C1) as well as homozygosity for KIR2DL3 with C1C2, were both found to be underrepresented in infected infants compared to exposed uninfected infants in the total group (P = 0.06 and P = 0.038, respectively) and in the sub-group of infants whose mothers received NVP (P = 0.007 and P = 0.03, respectively). These associations were stronger post MVL adjustment (total group: P = 0.02 and P = 0.009, respectively; NVP group: P = 0.004 and P = 0.02, respectively). Upon stratification according to low and high MVL, all significant associations fell within the low MVL group, suggesting that with low viral load, the effects of genotype can be more easily detected. In conclusion this study has identified a number of significant associations that suggest an important role for NK cells in maternal-to-infant HIV-1 transmission.
Killer Ig-like receptors (KIRs) are implicated in protection from multiple pathogens including HIV, human papillomavirus, and malaria. Nonhuman primates such as rhesus and cynomolgus macaques are important models for the study of human pathogens; however, KIR genetics in nonhuman primates are poorly defined. Understanding KIR allelic diversity and genomic organization are essential prerequisites to evaluate NK cell responses in macaques. In this study, we present a complete characterization of KIRs in Mauritian cynomolgus macaques, a geographically isolated population. In this study we demonstrate that only eight KIR haplotypes are present in the entire population and characterize the gene content of each. Using the simplified genetics of this population, we construct a model for macaque KIR genomic organization, defining four putative KIR3DL loci, one KIR3DH, two KIR2DL, and one KIR1D. We further demonstrate that loci defined in Mauritian cynomolgus macaques can be applied to rhesus macaques. The findings from this study fundamentally advance our understanding of KIR genetics in nonhuman primates and establish a foundation from which to study KIR signaling in disease pathogenesis.
Humans and chimpanzees have orthologous MHC class I, but few orthologous KIR. Most divergent are lineage III KIR, which in humans include the inhibitory KIR2DL1 and 2DL2/3 specific for HLA-C. Six lineage III chimpanzee KIR were identified as candidate inhibitory MHC-C receptors and studied using cytolytic assays, to assess the capacity of a defined KIR to function with a defined MHC class I allotype, and direct binding assays with KIR-Fc fusion proteins. Pt-KIR2DL6 and 2DL8 were demonstrated to be inhibitory C1 receptors with a specificity and specificity-determining residue (lysine 44) like KIR2DL3. Analogously, Pt-KIR2DL7 is like KIR2DL1, an inhibitory C2 receptor having methionine 44. Pt-KIR3DL4 and 3DL5 are unusual lineage III KIR with D0 domains, which are also inhibitory C2 receptors with methionine 44. Removal of D0 from KIR3DL, or its addition to KIR2DL, had no effect on KIR function. Pt-KIR2DL9, a fourth inhibitory C2 receptor, has glutamate 44, a previously uncharacterized specificity-determining residue that is absent from human KIR. Reconstruction of the ancestral hominoid KIR sequence shows it encoded lysine 44, indicating that KIR having methionine 44 and glutamate 44 subsequently evolved by independent point substitutions. Thus MHC-C2 specific KIR have evolved independently on at least two occasions. None of the six chimpanzee KIR studied resembles KIR2DL2, which interacts strongly with C1 and crossreacts with C2. Whereas human HLA-B allotypes that have functional C1 epitopes are either rare (HLA-B*73) or geographically localized (HLA-B*46), some 25% of Patr-B allotypes have the C1 epitope and are functional KIR ligands.
Natural Killer Cells; Cell Surface Molecules; Comparative Immunology/Evolution; MHC
Interactions between HLA class I and killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) diversify human NK cell responses. Dominant KIR ligands are the C1 and C2 epitopes of MHC-C, a young locus restricted to humans and great apes. C1 and C1-specific KIR evolved first, being present in orangutan and functionally like their human counterparts. Orangutans lack C2 and C2-specific KIR, but have a unique C1+C2 specific KIR that binds equally to C1 and C2. Such a receptor was likely the mechanism by which C2-KIR interaction evolved from C1-KIR while avoiding a non-functional intermediate: either orphan receptor or ligand. Orangutan inhibitory MHC-C reactive KIR pair with activating receptors of identical avidity and specificity, contrasting with the selective attenuation of human activating KIR. The orangutan C1-specific KIR reacts or cross-reacts with all four polymorphic epitopes (C1, C2, Bw4, and A3/11) recognized by human KIR, revealing their structural commonality. Saturation mutagenesis at specificity-determining position 44, demonstrates that KIR are inherently restricted to binding just these four epitopes, either individually or in combination. This restriction frees the majority of HLA-A and –B variants to be dedicated T-cell receptor ligands, not subject to conflicting pressures from the NK cell and T cell arms of the immune response.
Molecular interactions between killer immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs) and their MHC class I ligands play a central role in the regulation of natural killer (NK) cell responses to viral pathogens and tumors. Here we identify Mamu-A1*00201 (Mamu-A*02), a common MHC class I molecule in the rhesus macaque with a canonical Bw6 motif, as a ligand for Mamu-KIR3DL05. Mamu-A1*00201 tetramers folded with certain SIV peptides, but not others, directly stained primary NK cells and Jurkat cells expressing multiple allotypes of Mamu-KIR3DL05. Differences in binding avidity were associated with polymorphisms in the D0 and D1 domains of Mamu-KIR3DL05, whereas differences in peptide-selectivity mapped to the D1 domain. The reciprocal exchange of the third predicted MHC class I-contact loop of the D1 domain switched the specificity of two Mamu-KIR3DL05 allotypes for different Mamu-A1*00201-peptide complexes. Consistent with the function of an inhibitory KIR, incubation of lymphocytes from Mamu-KIR3DL05+ macaques with target cells expressing Mamu-A1*00201 suppressed the degranulation of tetramer-positive NK cells. These observations reveal a previously unappreciated role for D1 polymorphisms in determining the selectivity of KIRs for MHC class I-bound peptides, and identify the first functional KIR-MHC class I interaction in the rhesus macaque. The modulation of KIR-MHC class I interactions by viral peptides has important implications to pathogenesis, since it suggests that the immunodeficiency viruses, and potentially other types of viruses and tumors, may acquire changes in epitopes that increase the affinity of certain MHC class I ligands for inhibitory KIRs to prevent the activation of specific NK cell subsets.
NK cells provide an important first line of defense against infectious diseases and tumors by virtue of their ability to kill infected or malignant cells without prior sensitization. NK cell activation is regulated in part through interactions between KIRs expressed on the surface of NK cells and their MHC class I ligands on target cells. Here we identify Mamu-A1*00201 (Mamu-A*02), a common MHC class I molecule in the rhesus macaque, as a ligand for Mamu-KIR3DL05. We show that this interaction is peptide-dependent, since soluble Mamu-A1*00201 tetramers folded with certain SIV peptides, but not others, stained cells expressing Mamu-KIR3DL05. Differences in binding avidity were associated with polymorphisms in the D0 and D1 domains of Mamu-KIR3DL05, whereas differences in peptide-specificity mapped to the D1 domain. These observations reveal a previously unappreciated role for D1 polymorphisms in determining the selectivity of KIRs for MHC class I-bound peptides, and identify the first functional KIR-MHC class I interaction in the rhesus macaque. These observations suggest that SIV, and potentially also HIV-1, may acquire changes in epitopes that increase the avidity of MHC class I ligands for inhibitory KIRs as a mechanism of immune evasion to prevent the activation of certain NK cell subsets.
Human natural killer (NK) cells express several killer cell immunoglobulin (Ig)-like receptors (KIRs) that inhibit their cytotoxicity upon recognition of human histocompatibility leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I molecules on target cells. Additional members of the KIR family, including some that deliver activation signals, have unknown ligand specificity and function. One such KIR, denoted KIR2DL4, is structurally divergent from other KIRs in the configuration of its two extracellular Ig domains and of its transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains. Here we show that recombinant soluble KIR2DL4 binds to cells expressing HLA-G but not to cells expressing other HLA class I molecules. Unlike other HLA class I–specific KIRs, which are clonally distributed on NK cells, KIR2DL4 is expressed at the surface of all NK cells. Furthermore, functional transfer of KIR2DL4 into the cell line NK-92 resulted in inhibition of lysis of target cells that express HLA-G, but not target cells that express other class I molecules including HLA-E. Therefore, given that HLA-G expression is restricted to fetal trophoblast cells, KIR2DL4 may provide important signals to maternal NK decidual cells that interact with trophoblast cells at the maternal–fetal interface during pregnancy.
natural killer cell; human histocompatibility leukocyte antigen G; killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptor; pregnancy; trophoblast
The immune responses of natural killer cells are regulated, in part, by killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR). The 16 closely-related genes in the KIR gene system have been diversified by gene duplication and unequal crossing over, thereby generating haplotypes with variation in gene copy number. Allelic variation also contributes to diversity within the complex. In this study, we estimated allele-level haplotype frequencies and pairwise linkage disequilibrium statistics for 14 KIR loci. The typing utilized multiple methodologies by four laboratories to provide at least 2x coverage for each allele. The computational methods generated maximum-likelihood estimates of allele-level haplotypes. Our results indicate the most extensive allele diversity was observed for the KIR framework genes and for the genes localized to the telomeric region of the KIR A haplotype. Particular alleles of the stimulatory loci appear to be nearly fixed on specific, common haplotypes while many of the less frequent alleles of the inhibitory loci appeared on multiple haplotypes, some with common haplotype structures. Haplotype structures cA01 and/or tA01 predominate in this cohort, as has been observed in most populations worldwide. Linkage disequilibrium is high within the centromeric and telomeric haplotype regions but not between them and is particularly strong between centromeric gene pairs KIR2DL5∼KIR2DS3S5 and KIR2DS3S5∼KIR2DL1, and telomeric KIR3DL1∼KIR2DS4. Although 93% of the individuals have unique pairs of full-length allelic haplotypes, large genomic blocks sharing specific sets of alleles are seen in the most frequent haplotypes. These high-resolution, high-quality haplotypes extend our basic knowledge of the KIR gene system and may be used to support clinical studies beyond single gene analysis.
The frequencies of alleles of killer cell immunoglobulin like receptor genes, KIR3DL3 and KIR3DL2, and the carrier frequency of KIR2DL4 alleles have been determined from a population of African Americans (n=100) by DNA sequencing of the coding regions. Fifty alleles of KIR3DL3 were observed with the most frequent, KIR3DL3*00901 (13%). KIR3DL2 was also diverse, 32 alleles with KIR3DL2*00103 the most frequent (17%). For KIR2DL4, of the 18 alleles observed, one allele, KIR2DL4*00103 was found in 64 of the 100 individuals. Thirty six novel alleles encoding a total of 28 unique receptors are described. Pairwise comparisons among all of the alleles at each locus suggest a predominance of synonymous substitutions. The variation at all three framework loci fits a neutral model of evolution.
Natural killer cells; killer cell immunoglobulin-like genes (KIR); allelic polymorphism; population study