CD8(+) T Lymphocyte and NK Cell Network: Circuitry in the Cytotoxic Domain of Immunity
Uzhachenko, Roman, V.
Multiple effector layers in the immune system ensure an optimal temporal and spatial distribution of immune defense. Cytotoxic innate lymphoid natural killers (NK) and adaptive CD8(+) T lymphocytes (CTL) interact to elicit specific cytolytic outcomes. The CTL carry antigen-specific T cell receptors (TCR) to recognize cognate peptides bound with major histocompatibility complex class-I (MHC-I) or human leukocyte antigen (HLA) molecules on target cells. Upon TCR engagement with MHC-I:peptide at a threshold of avidity, T cell intracellular programs converge into cytolytic activity. By contrast, NK cells lack antigen-specific receptors but express a repertoire of highly polymorphic and polygenic inhibitory and activating receptors that bind various ligands including MHC and like molecules. A highly calibrated maturation enables NK cells to eliminate target cells with lowered or absent MHC-I or induced MHC-I-related molecules while maintaining their tolerance toward self-MHC. Both CTL and mature NK cells undergo membranous reorganization and express various effector molecules to eliminate aberrant cells undergoing a stress of transformation, infection or other pathological noxa. Here, we present the cellular modules that underlie the CTL-NK circuitry to maximize their effector cooperativity against stressed or cancerous cells.