Variation in killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors and their human leukocyte antigen class I-encoded ligands impacts natural killer cell education and the control of viral infection
AuthorWong, Shu Cheng
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2018 Dr Shu Cheng Wong
The interaction of HLA class I (HLA-I) proteins with inhibitory receptors such as those of the Killer cell Immunoglobulin-like Receptor (KIR) family play a key role in effector function acquisition and target cell identification by Natural Killer (NK) cells. However, the extent to which polymorphism in the genes encoding both KIR and their HLA-I encoded ligands impacts the capacity of NK cells to respond to virus-infected or transformed cells with reduced expression of HLA-I proteins is unclear. Analyses of KIR expression on NK cells from a large panel of HLA-I typed healthy donors, found little evidence to suggest that the presence of a HLA-I ligand significantly impacted the frequency of KIR expression. In contrast, the NK cell’s capacity to respond to HLA-I-deficient targets was elevated by the presence of cognate KIR/HLA-I-ligand pairs. Focussed analyses of the interaction between KIR3DL1 and HLA-Bw4 allotypes demonstrated that polymorphisms in both the receptor and ligand impacted the strength of the interaction. Moreover, functional analyses showed that the proportion of KIR3DL1+ve NK cells responding to HLA-I-deficient targets strongly correlated with the strength of the interaction between KIR3DL1 and HLA-Bw4 alloypes, a phenomenon often described as education. Similarly, analyses of KIR3DL1/HLA-Bw4 pairs in a cohort of HIV+ve individuals showed a strong correlation with viral loads, implicating NK cell education in the control of HIV. Analysis of viral loads in HIV-infected HLA-B*57:01+ve individuals revealed that those with KIR3DL1 alleles encoding a valine at position 47 had reduced viral loads relative to individuals that possessed alleles with isoleucine at this position. Binding and reporter cell analyses showed that KIR3DL1*005, a common Ile47 encoding allotype, interacted more strongly with HLA-B*57:01 than other allotypes. Strikingly, functional analyses showed that NK cells expressing Ile47 allotypes were more strongly inhibited by HLA-B*57:01 when expressed at low levels than Val47 variants, suggesting that allotypic variation in KIR impacts the capacity of NK cells to mediate immunosurveillance of HLA-I levels. Finally, although HLA-Bw4 allotypes show extensive conservation across residues that made direct contacts with KIR3DL1, the capacity of allotypes such as HLA-B*57:01 and HLA-A*24:02 to inhibit NK cell activation varied markedly. Since immune synapse formation relies on discerning between structurally similar ectodomains, as may be the case for HLA-Bw4 allotypes, the membrane behaviour of these two HLA-I was compared by fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP). The data revealed that the mobility of HLA-I was influenced by the cell in which they were expressed, however allotypic differences between the mobility of HLA-B*57:01 and -A*24:02 were observed and, via the analyses of chimeric and mutant HLA-I proteins, was found in part to be dependent on their ectodomains. Taken together, the data suggest that polymorphisms in both KIR and HLA-I impact the strength of their interaction, which in turn influences NK cell education and target cell recognition, particularly with regard to the sensitivity to altered HLA-I expression. In the case of KIR3DL1/HLA-Bw4 interaction, this is manifested in changes in viral replication in HIV-infected individuals and likely has significance in other settings including infection and cancer.
KeywordsNK cell; Killer cell Immunoglobulin-like Receptor; KIR; KIR3DL1; HLA-I; HLA-Bw4; HIV; HLA-I membrane mobility
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