Human NK cell receptors/markers: A tool to analyze NK cell development, subsets and function

Authors

  • Elisa Montaldo,

    1. Department of Experimental Medicine-DIMES, University of Genova, Genova, Italy
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  • Genny Del Zotto,

    1. Giannina Gaslini Institute, Genova, Italy
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    • Elisa Montaldo, Genny Del Zotto, and Mariella Della Chiesa equally contributed to this work.

  • Mariella Della Chiesa,

    1. Department of Experimental Medicine-DIMES, University of Genova, Genova, Italy
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  • Maria Cristina Mingari,

    1. Department of Experimental Medicine-DIMES, University of Genova, Genova, Italy
    2. IRCCS AOU San Martino-IST-Genova, Istituto Nazionale per la Ricerca sul Cancro, Genova, Italy
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  • Alessandro Moretta,

    1. Department of Experimental Medicine-DIMES, University of Genova, Genova, Italy
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  • Andrea De Maria,

    1. IRCCS AOU San Martino-IST-Genova, Istituto Nazionale per la Ricerca sul Cancro, Genova, Italy
    2. Department of Health Sciences-DISSAL, University of Genova, Genova, Italy
    3. Center for Excellence in Biomedical Research, University of Genova, Genova, Italy
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  • Lorenzo Moretta

    Corresponding author
    1. Giannina Gaslini Institute, Genova, Italy
    • Department of Experimental Medicine-DIMES, University of Genova, Genova, Italy
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Correspondence to: Lorenzo Moretta, Giannina Gaslini Institute, Largo G. Gaslini 5, 16147 Genova, Italy. E-mail: lorenzomoretta@ospedale-gaslini.ge.it

Abstract

Natural killer (NK) cells are important components of the innate immunity and play a key role in host defense by virtue of their ability to release cytokines and to mediate cytolytic activity against tumor cells and virus-infected cells. NK cells were first described more than 30 years ago on the basis of their peculiar functional capabilities. Subsequently, thanks to the production of a variety of monoclonal antibodies, it became possible to identify surface receptors and markers expressed by NK cells as well as to characterize their functional properties. Here, we provide a brief historical overview about the discovery of human NK cell receptors and we delineate the main phenotypic features of differentiating and mature NK cells in healthy donors as well as their alterations in certain pathologic conditions. © 2013 International Society for Advancement of Cytometry

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