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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Molecular definition of the identity and activation of natural killer cells.

  • Author(s): Bezman, Natalie A
  • Kim, Charles C
  • Sun, Joseph C
  • Min-Oo, Gundula
  • Hendricks, Deborah W
  • Kamimura, Yosuke
  • Best, J Adam
  • Goldrath, Ananda W
  • Lanier, Lewis L
  • Immunological Genome Project Consortium
  • et al.

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Using whole-genome microarray data sets of the Immunological Genome Project, we demonstrate a closer transcriptional relationship between NK cells and T cells than between any other leukocytes, distinguished by their shared expression of genes encoding molecules with similar signaling functions. Whereas resting NK cells are known to share expression of a few genes with cytotoxic CD8(+) T cells, our transcriptome-wide analysis demonstrates that the commonalities extend to hundreds of genes, many encoding molecules with unknown functions. Resting NK cells demonstrate a 'preprimed' state compared with naive T cells, which allows NK cells to respond more rapidly to viral infection. Collectively, our data provide a global context for known and previously unknown molecular aspects of NK cell identity and function by delineating the genome-wide repertoire of gene expression of NK cells in various states.

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