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1.  A Novel System of Polymorphic and Diverse NK Cell Receptors in Primates 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(10):e1000688.
There are two main classes of natural killer (NK) cell receptors in mammals, the killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) and the structurally unrelated killer cell lectin-like receptors (KLR). While KIR represent the most diverse group of NK receptors in all primates studied to date, including humans, apes, and Old and New World monkeys, KLR represent the functional equivalent in rodents. Here, we report a first digression from this rule in lemurs, where the KLR (CD94/NKG2) rather than KIR constitute the most diverse group of NK cell receptors. We demonstrate that natural selection contributed to such diversification in lemurs and particularly targeted KLR residues interacting with the peptide presented by MHC class I ligands. We further show that lemurs lack a strict ortholog or functional equivalent of MHC-E, the ligands of non-polymorphic KLR in “higher” primates. Our data support the existence of a hitherto unknown system of polymorphic and diverse NK cell receptors in primates and of combinatorial diversity as a novel mechanism to increase NK cell receptor repertoire.
Author Summary
Most receptors of natural killer (NK) cells interact with highly polymorphic major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules and thereby regulate the activity of NK cells against infected or malignant target cells. Whereas humans, apes, and Old and New World monkeys use the family of killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) as highly diverse NK cell receptors, this function is performed in rodents by the diverse family of lectin-like receptors Ly49. When did this functional separation occur in evolution? We followed this by investigating lemurs, primates that are distantly related to humans. We show here that lemurs employ the CD94/NKG2 family as their highly diversified NK cell receptors. The CD94/NKG2 receptors also belong to the lectin-like receptor family, but are rather conserved in “higher” primates and rodents. We could further demonstrate that lemurs have a single Ly49 gene like other primates but lack functional KIR genes of the KIR3DL lineage and show major deviations in their MHC class I genomic organisation. Thus, lemurs have evolved a “third way” of polymorphic and diverse NK cell receptors. In addition, the multiplied lemur CD94/NKG2 receptors can be freely combined, thereby forming diverse receptors. This is, therefore, the first description of some combinatorial diversity of NK cell receptors.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000688
PMCID: PMC2757895  PMID: 19834558
2.  Alarmin S100A8/S100A9 as a biomarker for molecular imaging of local inflammatory activity 
Nature Communications  2014;5:4593.
Inflammation has a key role in the pathogenesis of various human diseases. The early detection, localization and monitoring of inflammation are crucial for tailoring individual therapies. However, reliable biomarkers to detect local inflammatory activities and to predict disease outcome are still missing. Alarmins, which are locally released during cellular stress, are early amplifiers of inflammation. Here, using optical molecular imaging, we demonstrate that the alarmin S100A8/S100A9 serves as a sensitive local and systemic marker for the detection of even sub-clinical disease activity in inflammatory and immunological processes like irritative and allergic contact dermatitis. In a model of collagen-induced arthritis, we use S100A8/S100A9 imaging to predict the development of disease activity. Furthermore, S100A8/S100A9 can act as a very early and sensitive biomarker in experimental leishmaniasis for phagocyte activation linked to an effective Th1-response. In conclusion, the alarmin S100A8/S100A9 is a valuable and sensitive molecular target for novel imaging approaches to monitor clinically relevant inflammatory disorders on a molecular level.
Alarmins are locally released during inflammation and are early amplifiers of inflammation. Here Vogl et al. show that the alarmin S100A8/S100A9 can be used as a sensitive marker to detect subclinical inflammation and follow disease progression in a variety of disease models.
doi:10.1038/ncomms5593
PMCID: PMC4143994  PMID: 25098555

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