2B4 (CD244) – CD48 interactions provide a novel MHC class I-independent system for NK cell self-tolerance in mice

Natural killer (NK) cells must be able to eliminate infected and transformed cells while remaining tolerant of normal cells. NK-cell self-tolerance is thought to be maintained by self-major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I recognition; however, there are examples where NK cells are not regulated by MHC class I and yet remain self-tolerant. Here, we show that 2B4 (CD244) and CD48 represent a second system for murine NK-cell self-recognition. 2B4 and MHC class I receptors act nonredundantly to inhibit NK lysis of syngeneic tumor cells. NK cells from beta2 microglobulin (beta2m)-deficient mice and NK cells that lack expression of self-MHC-binding inhibitory receptors are inhibited by 2B4. Moreover, we provide the first in vivo evidence for MHC-independent NK self-recognition in a bone marrow rejection assay. These data suggest that NK-cell self-tolerance can be mediated by molecules other than MHC.

PMID: 15870174