Immune memory redefined: characterizing the longevity of natural killer cells

Authors

  • Joseph C. Sun,

    1. Department of Microbiology and Immunology and the Cancer Research Institute, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.
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  • Joshua N. Beilke,

    1. Department of Microbiology and Immunology and the Cancer Research Institute, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.
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    • *

      Present address: Novo Nordisk, 530 Fairview Ave N, Seattle WA 98109, USA.

  • Lewis L. Lanier

    1. Department of Microbiology and Immunology and the Cancer Research Institute, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.
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Lewis L. Lanier
Department of Microbiology and Immunology
University of California at San Francisco
513 Parnassus Avenue, HSE-1001B
San Francisco, CA 94143, USA
Tel.: +1 415 514 0829
Fax: +1 415 502 5424
e-mail: lewis.lanier@ucsf.edu

Abstract

Summary:  Natural killer (NK) cells respond rapidly to transformed, stressed, or virally infected cells and provide a first-line immune defense against pathogen invasion and cancer. Thought to involve short-lived effector cells that are armed for battle, NK cells were not previously known to contribute in recall responses to pathogen re-encounter. Here, we highlight recent discoveries demonstrating that NK cells are not limited to driving primary immune responses to foreign antigen but can mount secondary responses contributing to immune memory. We also further characterize the phenotype and function of long-lived memory NK cells generated during viral infection.

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