Gene Summary

Gene:KLRK1; killer cell lectin like receptor K1
Aliases: KLR, CD314, NKG2D, NKG2-D, D12S2489E
Summary:Natural killer (NK) cells are lymphocytes that can mediate lysis of certain tumor cells and virus-infected cells without previous activation. They can also regulate specific humoral and cell-mediated immunity. NK cells preferentially express several calcium-dependent (C-type) lectins, which have been implicated in the regulation of NK cell function. The NKG2 gene family is located within the NK complex, a region that contains several C-type lectin genes preferentially expressed in NK cells. This gene encodes a member of the NKG2 family. The encoded transmembrane protein is characterized by a type II membrane orientation (has an extracellular C terminus) and the presence of a C-type lectin domain. It binds to a diverse family of ligands that include MHC class I chain-related A and B proteins and UL-16 binding proteins, where ligand-receptor interactions can result in the activation of NK and T cells. The surface expression of these ligands is important for the recognition of stressed cells by the immune system, and thus this protein and its ligands are therapeutic targets for the treatment of immune diseases and cancers. Read-through transcription exists between this gene and the upstream KLRC4 (killer cell lectin-like receptor subfamily C, member 4) family member in the same cluster. [provided by RefSeq, Dec 2010]
Databases:OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:NKG2-D type II integral membrane protein
Source:NCBIAccessed: 31 August, 2019


What does this gene/protein do?
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Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1994-2019)
Graph generated 31 August 2019 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • Messenger RNA
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • T-Lymphocytes
  • Type C Phospholipases
  • Neoplasms, Experimental
  • Thymoma and Thymic Carcinoma
  • Valproic Acid
  • GPI-Linked Proteins
  • Cancer Gene Expression Regulation
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Receptors, Natural Killer Cell
  • Survivors
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • Chromosome 12
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Natural Killer T-Cells
  • Natural Killer Cells
  • Young Adult
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Ligands
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic
  • Cervical Cancer
  • Down-Regulation
  • Membrane Proteins
  • NK Cell Lectin-Like Receptor Subfamily K
  • Single Nucleotide Polymorphism
  • Polymorphism
  • Gene Expression
  • Xenograft Models
  • Immunotherapy
  • TNF
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stomach Cancer
  • Trinucleotide Repeats
Tag cloud generated 31 August, 2019 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (4)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: KLRK1 (cancer-related)

Duan S, Guo W, Xu Z, et al.
Natural killer group 2D receptor and its ligands in cancer immune escape.
Mol Cancer. 2019; 18(1):29 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The immune system plays important roles in tumor development. According to the immune-editing theory, immune escape is the key to tumor survival, and exploring the mechanisms of tumor immune escape can provide a new basis for the treatment of tumors. In this review, we describe the mechanisms of natural killer group 2D (NKG2D) receptor and NKG2D ligand (NKG2DL) in tumor immune responses.Natural killer (NK) cells are important cytotoxic cells in the immune system, and the activated NKG2D receptor on the NK cell surface can bind to NKG2DL expressed in tumor cells, enabling NK cells to activate and kill tumor cells. However, tumors can escape the immune clearance mediated by NKG2D receptor/NKG2DL through various mechanisms. The expression of NKG2D receptor on NK cells can be regulated by cells, molecules, and hypoxia in the tumor microenvironment. Tumor cells regulate the expression of NKG2DL at the level of transcription, translation, and post-translation and thereby escape recognition by NK cells. In particular, viruses and hormones have special mechanisms to affect the expression of NKG2D receptor and NKG2DL. Therefore, NKG2D\NKG2DL may have applications as targets for more effective antitumor therapy.

Luo D, Dong XW, Yan B, et al.
MG132 selectively upregulates MICB through the DNA damage response pathway in A549 cells.
Mol Med Rep. 2019; 19(1):213-220 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Natural killer (NK) cells recognize stress‑activated NK group 2, member D (NKG2D) ligands in tumors. In the present study, the expression levels of NKG2D ligands were examined in four lung cancer cell lines (A549, PLA801D, NCI‑H157 and NCI‑H520). In the A549 cells, the expression of MHC class I polypeptiderelated sequence (MIC)A/B and UL16 binding protein (ULBP)1 was weak, the expression of ULBP2 was typical, and neither ULBP3 nor ULBP4 were expressed. The mechanism underlying the regulatory effect of a cancer treatment agent on the expression of NKG2D ligands was investigated using the proteasome inhibitor MG132. Following treatment for 8 h with MG132, the transcription levels of MICB and ULBP1 were upregulated 10.62‑ and 11.09‑fold, respectively, and the expression levels of MICB and ULBP1 were increased by 68.18 and 23.65%, respectively. Notably, MICB exhibited significant time‑dependent change. MG132 increased the transcription of MICB by acting at a site in the 480‑bp MICB upstream promoter. The activity of the MICB promoter was upregulated 1.77‑fold following treatment with MG132. MG132 treatment improved the cytotoxicity of NK cells, which was partially blocked by an antibody targeting NKG2D, and more specifically the MICB molecule. The expression of MICB induced by MG132 was inhibited by KU‑55933 [ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) kinase inhibitor], wortmannin (phosphoinositide 3 kinase inhibitor) and caffeine (ATM/ATM‑Rad3‑related inhibitor). The phosphorylation of checkpoint kinase 2 (Chk2), an event associated with DNA damage, was observed following treatment with MG132. These results indicated that MG132 selectively upregulates the expression of MICB in A549 cells, and increases the NKG2D‑mediated cytotoxicity of NK cells. The regulatory effect of MG132 may be associated with the activation of Chk2, an event associated with DNA damage. The combination of MG132 with NK cell immunotherapy may have a synergistic effect that improves the therapeutic effect of lung cancer treatment.

Zhou MT, Zhao C, Chen X, et al.
MicroRNA-34a promotes MICB expression in hepatocytes.
Carcinogenesis. 2018; 39(12):1477-1487 [PubMed] Related Publications
MicroRNA-34a (miR-34a) behaves as a tumor suppressor by decreasing the expression of oncogenes involved in multiple carcinogenic pathways. Intravenous delivery of miR-34a mimics has been investigated in clinical trials as a potential treatment for advanced cancers; however, the effect of miR-34a on cancer immune surveillance is controversial. In the current study, we found that miR-34a plays a dual role in the regulation of major histocompatibility complex class I-related sequence B (MICB) protein, a ligand of the NKG2D receptor. MiR-34a could both induce and reduce MICB expression by upregulating ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3-related (ATR) protein kinase and downregulating the transcription factor E2F1, respectively. The net effect of miR-34a on MICB expression depended on endogenous E2F1 levels. Overexpression of miR-34a promoted MICB expression in hepatocytes and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells that have low E2F1 levels but not in HCC cells that have high E2F1 levels. In HCC patients, the expression of miR-34a and MICB showed positive correlation in paratumor liver tissues, which have low E2F1 levels, but not in HCC tissues, which have high E2F1 levels. We showed that miR-34a overexpression in non-transformed liver cells enhanced cytolysis and interferon-γ production by NK-92MI cells. Furthermore, higher miR-34a expression in tumor and paratumor tissues was associated with positive and negative outcomes, respectively, in HCC patients. Our findings suggest that miR-34a induces MICB expression in paratumor liver tissues, which may cause liver damage and serious cytokine release syndrome, thus disclosing potential side effects of systemic administration of miR-34a in anticancer therapy.

Han B, Mao FY, Zhao YL, et al.
Altered NKp30, NKp46, NKG2D, and DNAM-1 Expression on Circulating NK Cells Is Associated with Tumor Progression in Human Gastric Cancer.
J Immunol Res. 2018; 2018:6248590 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Natural killer (NK) cell activity is influenced by a complex integration of signaling pathways activated downstream of both activating and inhibitory surface receptors. The tumor microenvironment can suppress NK cell activity, and there is a great clinical interest in understanding whether modulating tumor-mediated NK cell suppression and/or boosting preexisting NK cell numbers in cancer patients is therapeutically viable. To this light, we characterized the surface receptor phenotypes of peripheral blood NK cells and examined their clinical relevance to human gastric cancer (GC). We found that the proportion of peripheral blood NK cells which expressed the activating receptors NKp30, NKp46, NKG2D, and DNAM-1 was significantly decreased in GC patients compared to healthy donors, and that this decrease was positively associated with tumor progression. At the same time, plasma TGF-

Stepanenko AA, Chekhonin VP
A compendium of adenovirus genetic modifications for enhanced replication, oncolysis, and tumor immunosurveillance in cancer therapy.
Gene. 2018; 679:11-18 [PubMed] Related Publications
In this review, we specifically focus on genetic modifications of oncolytic adenovirus 5 (Ad5)-based vectors that enhance replication, oncolysis/spread, and virus-mediated tumor immunosurveillance. The finding of negative regulation of minor core protein V by SUMOylation led to the identification of amino acid residues, which when mutated increase adenovirus replication and progeny yield. Suppression of Dicer and/or RNAi pathway with shRNA or p19 tomato bushy stunt protein also results in significant enhancement of adenovirus replication and progeny yield. Truncation mutations in E3-19K or i-leader sequence or overexpression of adenovirus death protein (ADP) potently increase adenovirus progeny release and spread without affecting virus yield. Moreover, E3-19K protein, which was found to inhibit both major histocompatibility complex I (MHCI) and MHC-I chain-related A and B proteins (MICA/MICB) expression on the cell surface, protecting infected cells from T-lymphocyte and natural killer (NK) cell attack, may be tailored to selectively target only MHCI or MICA/MICB, or to lose the ability to downregulate both. At last, E3-19K protein may be exploited to deliver tumor-associated epitopes directly to the endoplasmic reticulum for loading MHCI in the transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP)-deregulated cells.

Wang Z, Wang Z, Li S, et al.
Decitabine Enhances Vγ9Vδ2 T Cell-Mediated Cytotoxic Effects on Osteosarcoma Cells
Front Immunol. 2018; 9:1239 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
γδ T cell-based immunotherapy for osteosarcoma (OS) has shown limited success thus far. DNA-demethylating agents not only induce tumor cell death but also have an immunomodulatory function. In this study, we have assessed the potential benefit of combining decitabine (DAC, a DNA demethylation drug) and γδ T cells for OS immunotherapy. DAC increased the expression of natural killer group 2D (NKG2D) ligands (NKG2DLs), including major histocompatibility complex class I-related chains B (MICB) and UL16-binding protein 1 (ULBP1), on the OS cell surface, making the cells more sensitive to recognition and destruction by cytotoxic γδ T cells. The upregulation of MICB and ULBP1 was due to promoter DNA demethylation. Importantly, the killing of OS cells by γδ T cells was partially reversed by blocking the NKG2D receptor, suggesting that the γδ T cell-mediated cytolysis of DAC-pretreated OS cells was mainly dependent on the NKG2D-NKG2DL axis. The

Pistoia V, Tumino N, Vacca P, et al.
Human γδ T-Cells: From Surface Receptors to the Therapy of High-Risk Leukemias.
Front Immunol. 2018; 9:984 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
γδ T lymphocytes are potent effector cells, capable of efficiently killing tumor and leukemia cells. Their activation is mediated by γδ T-cell receptor (TCR) and by activating receptors shared with NK cells (e.g., NKG2D and DNAM-1). γδ T-cell triggering occurs upon interaction with specific ligands, including phosphoantigens (for Vγ9Vδ2 TCR), MICA-B and UL16 binding protein (for NKG2D), and PVR and Nectin-2 (for DNAM-1). They also respond to cytokines undergoing proliferation and release of cytokines/chemokines. Although at the genomic level γδ T-cells have the potential of an extraordinary TCR diversification, in tissues they display a restricted repertoire. Recent studies have identified various γδ TCR rearrangements following either hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) or cytomegalovirus infection, accounting for their "adaptive" potential. In humans, peripheral blood γδ T-cells are primarily composed of Vγ9Vδ2 chains, while a minor proportion express Vδ1. They do not recognize antigens in the context of MHC molecules, thus bypassing tumor escape based on MHC class I downregulation. In view of their potent antileukemia activity and absence of any relevant graft-versus-host disease-inducing effect, γδ T-cells may play an important role in the successful clinical outcome of patients undergoing HLA-haploidentical HSCT depleted of TCR αβ T/CD19

Zingoni A, Vulpis E, Cecere F, et al.
MICA-129 Dimorphism and Soluble MICA Are Associated With the Progression of Multiple Myeloma.
Front Immunol. 2018; 9:926 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Natural killer (NK) cells are immune innate effectors playing a pivotal role in the immunosurveillance of multiple myeloma (MM) since they are able to directly recognize and kill MM cells. In this regard, among activating receptors expressed by NK cells, NKG2D represents an important receptor for the recognition of MM cells, being its ligands expressed by tumor cells, and being able to trigger NK cell cytotoxicity. The MHC class I-related molecule A (MICA) is one of the NKG2D ligands; it is encoded by highly polymorphic genes and exists as membrane-bound and soluble isoforms. Soluble MICA (sMICA) is overexpressed in the serum of MM patients, and its levels correlate with tumor progression. Interestingly, a methionine (Met) to valine (Val) substitution at position 129 of the α2 heavy chain domain classifies the MICA alleles into strong (

Bruno A, Bassani B, D'Urso DG, et al.
Angiogenin and the MMP9-TIMP2 axis are up-regulated in proangiogenic, decidual NK-like cells from patients with colorectal cancer.
FASEB J. 2018; 32(10):5365-5377 [PubMed] Related Publications
NK cells are effector lymphocytes involved in tumor immunosurveillance; however, in patients with solid malignancies, NK cells have compromised functions. We have previously reported that lung tumor-associated NK cells (TANKs; peripheral blood) and tumor-infiltrating NK cells (TINKs) show proangiogenic, decidual NK-like (dNK) phenotype. In this study, we functionally and molecularly investigated TINKs and TANKs from blood and tissue samples of patients with colorectal cancer (CRC), a neoplasm in which inflammation and angiogenesis have clinical relevance, and compared them to NK cells from controls and patients with nononcologic inflammatory bowel disease. CRC TINKs/TANKs showed decreased expression for the activatory marker NKG2D, impaired degranulation activity, a decidual-like NK polarization toward the CD56

Jiang W, Zhang C, Tian Z, Zhang J
hIL-15-gene modified human natural killer cells (NKL-IL15) exhibit anti-human leukemia functions.
J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2018; 144(7):1279-1288 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: Natural killer (NK) cells can kill transformed cells and represent anti-tumor activities for improving the immunotherapy of cancer. In previous works, we established human interleukin-15 (hIL-15) gene-modified NKL cells (NKL-IL15) and demonstrated their efficiency against human hepatocarcinoma cells (HCCs) in vitro and in vivo. To further assess the applicability of NKL-IL15 cells in adoptive cellular immunotherapy for human leukemia, here we report their natural cytotoxicity against leukemia in vitro and in vivo.
METHODS: Flow cytometry, ELISA and MTT methods were performed for molecular expression, cell proliferation and cytotoxicity assays. Leukemia xenograft NOD/SCID mice were established by subcutaneous injection with K562 cells, and then treated with irradiated NKL cells.
RESULTS: We found NKL-IL15 cells displayed a significant high cytolysis activity against both human leukemia cell lines and primary leukemia cells from patients, accompanied with up-regulated expression of molecules related to NK cell cytotoxicity such as perforin, granzyme B and NKp80. Moreover, cytokines secreted by NKL-IL15 cells, including TNF-α and IFN-γ, could induce the expression of NKG2D ligands on target cells, which increased the susceptibility of leukemia cells to NK cell-mediated cytolysis. Encouragingly, NKL-IL15 cells significantly inhibited the growth of leukemia cells in xenografted NOD/SCID mice and prolonged the survival of tumor-bearing mice dramatically. Furthermore, NKL-IL15 cells displayed stimulatory effects on hPBMCs, indicating the immunesuppressive status of leukemia patients could be improved by NKL-IL15 cell treatment.
CONCLUSIONS: These results provided evidence that IL-15 gene-modification could augment NK cell-mediated anti-human leukemia function, which would improve primary NK cell-based immunotherapy for leukemia in future.

Xu LJ, Ma Q, Zhu J, et al.
Combined inhibition of JAK1,2/Stat3‑PD‑L1 signaling pathway suppresses the immune escape of castration‑resistant prostate cancer to NK cells in hypoxia.
Mol Med Rep. 2018; 17(6):8111-8120 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Castration‑resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) is difficult to treat in current clinical practice. Hypoxia is an important feature of the CRPC microenvironment and is closely associated with the progress of CRPC invasion. However, no research has been performed on the immune escape of CRPC from NK cells. The present study focused on this subject. Firstly, when the CRPC cell lines C4‑2 and CWR22Rv1 were induced by hypoxia, the expression of the UL16 binding protein (ULBP) ligand family of natural killer (NK) group 2D (NKG2D; ULBP‑1, ULBP‑2 and ULBP‑3) and MHC class I chain‑related proteins A and B (MICA/MICB) decreased. NKG2D is the main activating receptor of NK cells. Tumor cells were then co‑cultured with NK cells to conduct NK cell‑mediated cytotoxicity experiments, which revealed the decreased immune cytolytic activity of NK cells on hypoxia‑induced CRPC cells. In exploring the mechanism behind this observation, an increase in programmed death‑ligand 1 (PD‑L1) expression in CRPC cells induced by hypoxia was observed, while the addition of PD‑L1 antibody effectively reversed the expression of NKG2D ligand and enhanced the cytotoxic effect of NK cells on CRPC cells. In the process of exploring the upstream regulatory factors of PD‑L1, inhibition of the Janus kinase (JAK)1,2/signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (Stat3) signaling pathway decreased the expression of PD‑L1 in CRPC cells. Finally, it was observed that combined inhibition of JAK1,2/PD‑L1 or Stat3/PD‑L1 was more effective than inhibition of a single pathway in enhancing the immune cytolytic activity of NK cells. Taking these results together, it is thought that combined inhibition of the JAK1,2/PD‑L1 and Stat3/PD‑L1 signaling pathways may enhance the immune cytolytic activity of NK cells toward hypoxia‑induced CRPC cells, which is expected to provide novel ideas and targets for the immunotherapy of CRPC.

Yang X, Kuang S, Wang L, Wei Y
MHC class I chain-related A: Polymorphism, regulation and therapeutic value in cancer.
Biomed Pharmacother. 2018; 103:111-117 [PubMed] Related Publications
MICA and MICB are stress-induced molecules recognized by NKG2D, one of major activation receptors of natural killer (NK) cells. Upon binding to NKG2D, NKG2D-mediated cytolytic immune response of immune effector cells will be activated against virally infected and tumor cells expressing MICA. In the early oncogenic development, membrane-bound MICA serves as a key signal to recruit anti-tumor immune effectors. Nevertheless, both MICA polymorphic features and its dysregulated expression in evolving tumors have resulted in tumor evasion in various cancer types. Therefore, in order to reconstitute tumor immunosurveilance, it is of great significance that we understand MICA genetics, polymorphisms, mechanisms of MICA-associated tumor escape and molecular/cellular modulation of MICA. In this review, the MICA-associated co-expression networks involving microRNAs (miRNAs) and novel candidate long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) were also discussed. Given the current importance in the study of MICA gene, this review paper focuses on the role of MICA in different cancer types, and strategies that we manipulate MICA regulation against tumor proliferation.

Bugide S, Green MR, Wajapeyee N
Inhibition of Enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) induces natural killer cell-mediated eradication of hepatocellular carcinoma cells.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018; 115(15):E3509-E3518 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Natural killer (NK) cell-mediated tumor cell eradication could inhibit tumor initiation and progression. However, the factors that regulate NK cell-mediated cancer cell eradication remain unclear. We determined that hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells exhibit transcriptional down-regulation of NK group 2D (NKG2D) ligands and are largely resistant to NK cell-mediated eradication. Because the down-regulation of NKG2D ligands occurred at the transcriptional level, we tested 32 chemical inhibitors of epigenetic regulators for their ability to re-express NKG2D ligands and enhance HCC cell eradication by NK cells and found that Enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) was a transcriptional repressor of NKG2D ligands. The inhibition of EZH2 by small-molecule inhibitors or genetic means enhanced HCC cell eradication by NK cells in a NKG2D ligand-dependent manner. Collectively, these results demonstrate that EZH2 inhibition enhances HCC eradication by NK cells and that EZH2 functions, in part, as an oncogene by inhibiting immune response.

Lee YS, Heo W, Nam J, et al.
The combination of ionizing radiation and proteasomal inhibition by bortezomib enhances the expression of NKG2D ligands in multiple myeloma cells.
J Radiat Res. 2018; 59(3):245-252 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Bortezomib, which is a potent proteasome inhibitor, has been used as a first-line drugs to treat multiple myeloma for a few decades, and radiotherapy has frequently been applied to manage acute bone lesions in the patients. Therefore, it was necessary to investigate what the benefits might be if the two therapies were applied simultaneously in the treatment of multiple myeloma. Since it was known that radiotherapy and proteasome inhibitors could increase the expression of NKG2D ligands through induction of protein synthesis and suppression of protein degradation of NKG2D ligands, respectively, we supposed that the combined treatment might further enhance the expression of NKG2D ligands. In this study, we analyzed the expression level of NKG2D ligands using multiplex PCR and flow cytometry after treatment of IM-9 and RPMI-8226 myeloma cells with bortezomib and ionizing radiation; we then assayed the susceptibility to NK-92 cells. Although the expression of only some kinds of NKG2D ligands were increased by treatment with bortezomib alone, five kinds of NKG2D ligands that we assayed were further induced at the surface protein level after combined treatment with ionizing radiation and bortezomib. Furthermore, combined treatment made myeloma cells more susceptible to NK-92 cells, compared with treatment with bortezomib alone. In conclusion, the combination therapy of ionizing radiation plus the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib is a promising therapeutical strategy for enhancing NK cell-mediated anticancer immune responses.

Yamada N, Kato-Kogoe N, Yamanegi K, et al.
Inhibition of Asparagine-linked Glycosylation Participates in Hypoxia-induced Down-regulation of Cell-surface MICA Expression.
Anticancer Res. 2018; 38(3):1353-1359 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND/AIM: Hypoxia down-regulates the expression of cell surface major histocompatibility class I-related chain molecule A (MICA) without increasing its shedding. Recently, the inhibition of N-linked glycosylation was also shown to reduce the cell-surface expression of MICA. We investigated the participation of asparagine (Asn)-linked glycosylation in hypoxia-induced down-regulation of cell-surface MICA using osteosarcoma cells.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: The cell-surface expression and Asn-N-glycosylation of MICA were estimated by flow cytometry, and western blot analyses, respectively.
RESULTS: Hypoxia reduced the expression of N-linked glycosylated MICA, as well as the ratio of N-linked glycosylated to non-glycosylated MICA. 2-Deoxy-D-glucose, which inhibits N-linked glycosylation, reduced the cell-surface expression of MICA under normoxia, while D-Mannose increased N-glycosylated MICA, increasing cell-surface MICA under hypoxia. Cells transfected with wild-type MICA expression vector expressed cell surface MICA more than those transfected with mutant MICA expression vectors designed for abrogation of N-linked glycosylation.
CONCLUSION: The inhibition of Asn-N-linked glycosylation participates in hypoxia-induced down-regulation of cell-surface expression of MICA.

Espinoza JL, Minami M
Sensing Bacterial-Induced DNA Damaging Effects
Front Immunol. 2018; 9:52 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The human genome is constantly exposed to exogenous and endogenous DNA damaging factors that frequently cause DNA damages. Unless repaired, damaged DNA can result in deleterious mutations capable of causing malignant transformation. Accordingly, cells have developed an advanced and effective surveillance system, the DNA damage response (DDR) pathway, which maintains genetic integrity. In addition to well-defined outcomes, such as cell cycle arrest, apoptosis, and senescence, another consequence of DDR activation is the induction of natural killer group 2 member D ligands (NKG2D-Ls) on the surface of stressed cells. Consequently, NKG2D-Ls-expressing cells are recognized and eliminated by NKG2D receptor-expressing immune cells, including NK cells, and various subsets of T-cells. Recent pieces of evidence indicate that commensal microbial imbalance (known as dysbiosis) can trigger DDR activation in host cells, which may result in sustained inflammatory responses. Therefore, dysbiosis can be seen as an important source of DNA damage agents that may be partially responsible for the overexpression of NKG2D-Ls on intestinal epithelial cells that is frequently observed in patients with inflammatory bowel disease and other disorders associated with altered human microbiota, including the development of colorectal cancer. In this article, we discuss recent evidence that appears to link an altered human microbiota with autoimmunity and carcinogenesis

Chmielewski M, Abken H
CAR T Cells Releasing IL-18 Convert to T-Bet
Cell Rep. 2017; 21(11):3205-3219 [PubMed] Related Publications
Adoptive therapy with chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-redirected T cells has achieved remarkable efficacy in the treatment of hematopoietic malignancies. However, eradicating large solid tumors in advanced stages of the disease remains challenging. We explored augmentation of the anti-tumor immune reaction by establishing an acute inflammatory reaction. Systematic screening indicates that IL-18 polarizes CAR T cells toward T-bet

Cany J, Roeven MWH, Hoogstad-van Evert JS, et al.
Decitabine enhances targeting of AML cells by CD34
Blood. 2018; 131(2):202-214 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Combining natural killer (NK) cell adoptive transfer with hypomethylating agents (HMAs) is an attractive therapeutic approach for patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). However, data regarding the impact of HMAs on NK cell functionality are mostly derived from in vitro studies with high nonclinical relevant drug concentrations. In the present study, we report a comparative study of azacitidine (AZA) and decitabine (DAC) in combination with allogeneic NK cells generated from CD34

Sharapova TN, Ivanova OK, Soshnikova NV, et al.
Innate Immunity Protein Tag7 Induces 3 Distinct Populations of Cytotoxic Cells That Use Different Mechanisms to Exhibit Their Antitumor Activity on Human Leukocyte Antigen-Deficient Cancer Cells.
J Innate Immun. 2017; 9(6):598-608 [PubMed] Related Publications
The search for new immune response mechanisms capable of controlling immune-evasive tumor cells devoid of the MHC antigen is a challenging task for immunologists. In this study, we found that the treatment of human peripheral blood lymphocytes with the innate immunity protein Tag7 (PGRP-S, PGLYRP1) induces differentiation of the populations of NK (natural killer) cells and CD8+ and CD4+ T lymphocytes that are cytotoxic for human leukocyte antigen-negative tumor cells. These populations employ different mechanisms of tumor cell lysis (based on the release of granzymes in the case of NK cells and on the FasL-Fas interaction in the case of CD8+ and CD4+ T lymphocytes) and induce different death pathways (apoptosis or necroptosis) in tumor cells. An analysis of genes activated in leukocyte populations after Tag7 treatment and experiments with specific inhibitors have shown that the TREM-1 receptor expressed on the monocyte cell surface is essential for activation of cytotoxic activity. Overall, the results of this study provide evidence for a novel role of the Tag7 protein in the immune response.

Karlitepe A, Kabadayi H, Vatansever S, et al.
Anti-cancer efficiency of natural killer cells differentiated from human adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells and transfected with miRNA150.
Exp Oncol. 2017; 39(3):212-218 [PubMed] Related Publications
AIM: The aim of this study is to investigate the effects of miR150 transfection on NK-like cells differentiated from adipose tissue derived mesenchymal stem cells (AD-MSCs).
METHODS: NK-like cells were differentiated from AD-MSCs and activated by miR150 transfection. Transfected/non-transfected NK-like cells were characterized by immunohistochemical and RT-PCR analyzes. Apoptotic efficiency of the transfected/non-transfected NK-like cells on pancreatic cancer cells PANC1 were determined by TUNEL and RT-PCR.
RESULTS: In miR150-transfected cells, the increased expression of NK cell-specific genes such as GKMB, KIR2DL2, CD16, CD56, NKG2D, NKp46 and increased immunoreactivity of NK cell-specific surface marker CD314 (NKG2D) were evident. TUNEL assays showed that NK-like cells with/without transfection induced apoptosis in PANC1 cells in the same manner. The decrease in oncogene expression and the increase in the tumor suppressor gene expression in PANC1 cells upon co-culture with NK-like cells differentiated from AD-MSCs were more prominent following miRNA150 transfection.
CONCLUSION: It was shown in vitro that NK-like cells could be obtained by differentiation from AD-MSCs and their efficiency could be increased via miR150 transfection. The results are encouraging for further clinical studies in improvement of immunotherapeutic approaches for cancer therapy.

Konjevic G, Vuletic A, Mirjacic Martinovic K, et al.
Evaluation of the Functional Capacity of NK Cells of Melanoma Patients in an In Vitro Model of NK Cell Contact with K562 and FemX Tumor Cell Lines.
J Membr Biol. 2017; 250(5):507-516 [PubMed] Related Publications
NK cells of metastatic melanoma (MM) patients display impaired function, making them incapable to mount an effective antitumor response. In this study, we evaluated immunophenotypic characteristics and functional capacity of CD3

Shin S, Kim M, Lee SJ, et al.
Trichostatin A Sensitizes Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cells to Enhanced NK Cell-mediated Killing by Regulating Immune-related Genes.
Cancer Genomics Proteomics. 2017 Sep-Oct; 14(5):349-362 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND/AIM: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the second leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. The ability of HCC to avoid immune detection is considered one of the main factors making it difficult to cure. Abnormal histone deacetylation is thought to be one of the mechanisms for HCC immune escape, making histone deacetylases (HDACs) attractive targets for HCC treatment. Here, we investigated the effect of trichostatin A (TSA), a highly potent HDAC inhibitor, on HCC (HepG2) gene expression and function.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A genome wide-transcriptional microarray was used to identify genes regulated by TSA in HepG2 cells. Gene Ontology was used to identify pathways regulated by TSA, and these changes were confirmed by qPCR. The effect of TSA on natural killer (NK) cell-mediated killing of HCC cell lines were analyzed by both flow cytometry and LDH cytotoxicity assay. A study was also conducted in a Balb/c nude mice xenograft model to assess the anti-tumor activity of TSA.
RESULTS: TSA regulated the transcription of numerous innate immunity & tumor antigen recognition-associated genes, such as ULBP1 and RAET1G, in HCC cells. In vivo, TSA reduced tumor cell growth in an NK cell-dependent manner. In vitro, TSA treatment of HepG2 cells rendered them more susceptible to NK cell-mediated killing while increasing the expression of NKGD2 ligands, including ULBP1/2/3 and MICA/B. TSA also induced direct killing of HCC cells by stimulating apoptosis.
CONCLUSION: TSA likely increases killing of HCC cells indirectly by increasing NK cell-directed killing and directly by increasing apoptosis.

Streltsova MA, Barsov E, Erokhina SA, Kovalenko EI
Retroviral gene transfer into primary human NK cells activated by IL-2 and K562 feeder cells expressing membrane-bound IL-21.
J Immunol Methods. 2017; 450:90-94 [PubMed] Related Publications
Natural killer (NK) cells are capable of rapidly recognizing and efficiently killing tumor cells. This makes them a potentially promising agent for cancer immunotherapy. Additional genetic modifications of NK cells may further improve their anti-tumor efficacy. Numerous technical challenges associated with gene delivery into NK cells have significantly tempered this approach. We achieved efficient retroviral vector transduction of primary human NK cells that were stimulated by a combination of IL-2 and engineered K562 cells expressing membrane-bound IL-21. The activated NK cells were in less differentiated state and expressed NK cell activation receptors NKG2D, NKp30, CD16, and were highly HLA-DR-positive. This NK cell population was highly susceptible to the transduction by both GFP- and NGFR-expressing retroviral vectors, with transduction efficiency exceeding 50%. More mature CD57

Hara R, Onizuka M, Matsusita E, et al.
NKG2D gene polymorphisms are associated with disease control of chronic myeloid leukemia by dasatinib.
Int J Hematol. 2017; 106(5):666-674 [PubMed] Related Publications
A recent study reported that treatment-free remission (TFR) of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) after dasatinib (Das) treatment was significantly associated with natural killer (NK) cell proliferation in the peripheral blood. However, biomarkers to predict lymphocytosis or successful TFR are not well characterized. In order to clarify individual differences in NK cell responses among patients treated with Das, we retrospectively analyzed the association between polymorphisms in the natural killer group 2D receptor [NKG2D; also known as killer cell lectin like receptor K1 (KLRK1)] gene and clinical outcomes in 31 patients treated with Das as first-line treatment for CML. Patients with the NKG2D HNK1/HNK1 (high-cytotoxic activity-related allele on NKG2D hb-1) haplotype achieved MR4.5 more quickly than those with other haplotypes [hazard ratio (HR) 4.39; 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.75-118.6; P = 0.004]. In addition, NK cells with the NKG2D HNK1 allele exhibited enhanced phosphorylation of vav guanine nucleotide exchange factor 1 (VAV1) at Tyr174. These data suggest that NKG2D gene polymorphisms may represent candidate biomarkers for the prediction of TFR following Das treatment.

Breunig C, Pahl J, Küblbeck M, et al.
MicroRNA-519a-3p mediates apoptosis resistance in breast cancer cells and their escape from recognition by natural killer cells.
Cell Death Dis. 2017; 8(8):e2973 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Aggressive breast cancer is associated with poor patient outcome and characterized by the development of tumor cell variants that are able to escape from control of the immune system or are resistant to targeted therapies. The complex molecular mechanisms leading to immune escape and therapy resistance are incompletely understood. We have previously shown that high miR-519a-3p levels are associated with poor survival in breast cancer. Here, we demonstrate that miR-519a-3p confers resistance to apoptosis induced by TRAIL, FasL and granzyme B/perforin by interfering with apoptosis signaling in breast cancer cells. MiR-519a-3p diminished the expression of its direct target genes for TRAIL-R2 (TNFRSF10B) and for caspase-8 (CASP8) and its indirect target gene for caspase-7 (CASP7), resulting in reduced sensitivity and tumor cell apoptosis in response to apoptotic stimuli. Furthermore, miR-519a-3p impaired tumor cell killing by natural killer (NK) cells via downregulation of the NKG2D ligands ULBP2 and MICA on the surface of tumor cells that are crucial for the recognition of these tumor cells by NK cells. We determined that miR-519a-3p was overexpressed in more aggressive mutant TP53 breast cancer that was associated with poor survival. Furthermore, low levels of TRAIL-R2, caspase-7 and caspase-8 correlated with poor survival, suggesting that the inhibitory effect of miR-519a-3p on TRAIL-R2 and caspases may have direct clinical relevance in lowering patient's prognosis. In conclusion, we demonstrate that miR-519a-3p is a critical factor in mediating resistance toward cancer cell apoptosis and impairing tumor cell recognition by NK cells. This joint regulation of apoptosis and immune cell recognition through miR-519a-3p supports the hypothesis that miRNAs are key regulators of cancer cell fate, facilitating cancer progression and evasion from immunosurveillance at multiple and interconnected levels.

Konagai A, Yoshimura K, Hazama S, et al.
Correlation Between NKG2DL Expression and Antitumor Effect of Protein-bound Polysaccharide-K in Tumor-bearing Mouse Models.
Anticancer Res. 2017; 37(8):4093-4101 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND/AIM: We investigated the relationship between the expression of natural killer group 2, member D ligands (NKG2DLs) and the antitumor effects of protein-bound polysaccharide-K (PSK).
MATERIALS AND METHODS: PSK was administered to evaluate its effectiveness against tumor growth. The expression of Rae-1 and H60 were analyzed in multiple cell lines.
RESULTS: PSK showed the highest antitumor effects in mice implanted with cells expressing neither Rae-1 nor H60. PSK had little antitumor effect in mice implanted with cells expressing both Rae-1 and H60. A correlation between the expression of NKG2DLs and the antitumor effect of PSK was observed. After PSK administration, INF-γ production in CD8
CONCLUSION: We demonstrated that the expression of NKG2DLs affects tumor immunity and the efficacy of immuno therapy in tumor-bearing mouse model.

Nakajima NI, Niimi A, Isono M, et al.
Inhibition of the HDAC/Suv39/G9a pathway restores the expression of DNA damage-dependent major histocompatibility complex class I-related chain A and B in cancer cells.
Oncol Rep. 2017; 38(2):693-702 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Immunotherapy is expected to be promising as a next generation cancer therapy. Immunoreceptors are often activated constitutively in cancer cells, however, such levels of ligand expression are not effectively recognized by the native immune system due to tumor microenvironmental adaptation. Studies have demonstrated that natural-killer group 2, member D (NKG2D), a major activating immunoreceptor, responds to DNA damage. The upregulation of major histocompatibility complex class I-related chain A and B (MICA/B) (members of NKG2D ligands) expression after DNA damage is associated with NK cell-mediated killing of cancer cells. However, the regulation of DNA damage-induced MICA/B expression has not been fully elucidated in the context of the types of cancer cell lines. In the present study, we found that MICA/B expression varied between cancer cell lines after DNA damage. Screening in terms of chromatin remodeling identified that inhibitors related to chromatin relaxation via post-translational modification on histone H3K9, i.e. HDAC, Suv39 or G9a inhibition, restored DNA damage-dependent MICA/B expression in insensitive cells. In addition, we revealed that the restored MICA/B expression was dependent on ATR as well as E2F1, a transcription factor. We further revealed that low‑dose treatment of an HDAC inhibitor was sufficient to restore MICA/B expression in insensitive cells. Finally, we demonstrated that HDAC inhibition restored DNA damage‑dependent cytotoxic NK activity against insensitive cells. Thus, the present study revealed that DNA damage‑dependent MICA/B expression in insensitive cancer cells can be restored by chromatin relaxation via the HDAC/Suv39/G9a pathway. Collectively, manipulation of chromatin status by therapeutic cancer drugs may potentiate the antitumor effect by enhancing immune activation following radiotherapy and DNA damage-associated chemotherapy.

Fernández L, Metais JY, Escudero A, et al.
Memory T Cells Expressing an NKG2D-CAR Efficiently Target Osteosarcoma Cells.
Clin Cancer Res. 2017; 23(19):5824-5835 [PubMed] Related Publications

Garrido-Tapia M, Hernández CJ, Ascui G, et al.
STAT3 inhibition by STA21 increases cell surface expression of MICB and the release of soluble MICB by gastric adenocarcinoma cells.
Immunobiology. 2017; 222(11):1043-1051 [PubMed] Related Publications
NKG2D is an activating receptor expressed on NK cells that binds to a variety of ligands, including MICA and MICB. These cell surface glycoproteins are overexpressed under cellular transformation, thus playing an important role in cell-mediated immune response to tumors. STAT3 is a transcription factor that is constitutively active in cancer. It negatively regulates MICA expression on target cells, while its inhibition enhances NK cell cytotoxicity against tumors. In this work, we aimed to describe the effect of STAT3 signaling inhibition by STA21 on the regulation of MICB expression in gastric adenocarcinoma cells and its effect on the cytotoxic function of NK cells. Treatment of gastric adenocarcinoma cells with STA21 induced an increase in MICB expression and soluble MICB secretion, as well as a variable pattern on effector cell degranulation. Soluble MICB secretion by gastric adenocarcinoma cells was not affected by metalloprotease inhibition. We also observed that primary gastric adenocarcinoma tissue released soluble MICB into the extracellular milieu. Recombinant MICB induced a significant decrease in the levels of NKG2D receptor on effector NK and CD8+ T cells, which correlated with an impaired cytotoxic function. Altogether, our data provide evidence that STAT3 signaling pathway regulates MICB expression on gastric adenocarcinoma cells and that recombinant soluble MICB compromises the cytolytic activity of NK cells.

Frazao A, Colombo M, Fourmentraux-Neves E, et al.
Shifting the Balance of Activating and Inhibitory Natural Killer Receptor Ligands on
Cancer Immunol Res. 2017; 5(7):582-593 [PubMed] Related Publications
Over 60% of human melanoma tumors bear a mutation in the

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