The missing-self hypothesis postulates that the ability of NK cells to recognize and eliminate foreign cells is regulated by target cell expression of major histocompatibility complex class I molecules (MHC-I). The below image is adapted from Kumar and McNerney’s 2005 Nature Reviews Immunology article and illustrates at a high level how the presence or absence of MHC-I molecules helps facilitate NK cell activity.
Natural (Born) Killers – NK Cells in Immunotherapy
NK cell interaction with target cellsDiscrimination of self and non-self via NK cells via presence or absence of self-MHC class I molecules
In summary, a target cell’s presentation of self-MHC is inversely correlated to NK cell destruction of the target cell.
NK cells in immunotherapy
While the potential of NK cells to be effective in immunotherapy is huge, there are clear challenges to overcome before we can fully realize that potential.
Natural (Born) Killers - NK Cells in ImmunotherapyNatural Killer (NK) cells are aptly named. They act like well-trained snipers, ready to target and destroy foreign cells at the drop of a hat.
The combination of advances in our understanding of the basic biology of NK cells, and enhanced technology for use in genetic manipulation are lighting the way to a promising arena for fighting cancer. But there is a lot of research still to be done before we can fully realize the potential of NK cells in immunotherapy.
- Present and future of allogeneic natural killer cell therapy
- Genetic manipulation of NK cells for cancer immunotherapy: Techniques and clinical implications
- NK cell-based immunotherapy for treating cancer: will it be promising?
- A new self: MHC-class-I-independent natural-killer-cell self-tolerance