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The function of natural killer cells: education, reminders and some good memories.
Current Opinion in Immunology
The effector response of natural killer (NK) cells is determined by opposing signals received through activating and inhibitory receptors. A process termed NK cell education, which is guided by the recognition of Major Histocompatibility Complex class I (MHC-I) molecules, determines how efficiently activating receptors respond to stimulation. This ensures NK cell tolerance to healthy tissues while allowing robust responses to diseased host cells. It was thought that NK cells are educated during their development in the bone marrow and that education fixes the NK cells' functional properties. However, recent findings suggest that the function of mature peripheral NK cells can adapt to changes in their environment and that the persistent exposure to normal-self is essential to maintain NK cell reactivity. Notwithstanding, NK cell stimulation in the context of inflammation can stably improve the functional properties of NK cells.
Adaptive Immunity, Cell Differentiation, Histocompatibility Antigens Class I/immunology, Humans, Immune Tolerance, Immunologic Memory, Killer Cells, Natural/cytology, Killer Cells, Natural/immunology
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