Recognition of HLA-G by the NK cell receptor KIR2DL4 is not essential for human reproduction



A central issue of reproductive immunology in mammals is why a semi-allogeneic embryo is not rejected by the pregnant mother. This is particularly intriguing since, in different species, the early pregnant uterus is infiltrated by numerous maternal lymphocytes, predominantly NK cells. The human NK cell receptor KIR2DL4 has been implicated in the maternal tolerance to the embryo due to its recognition of HLA-G, a non-classical MHC molecule expressed preferentially in the placenta. Killer cell Ig-like receptors (KIR) are believed to participate in the natural immunity to infection and tumors, but KIR2DL4 has unique structural, functional and genetic features that could confer it a different role. However, we demonstrate here that the KIR2DL4:HLA-G interaction is not essential for human reproduction by showing that a multiparous woman lacks a KIR2DL4 gene.