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Natural killer (NK) cell responses depend on the balance of signals from inhibitory and activating receptors. However, how the integration of antagonistic signals occurs upon NK cell-target cell interaction is not fully understood. Here we provide evidence that NK cell inhibition via the inhibitory receptor Ly49A is dependent on its relative colocalization at the nanometer scale with the activating receptor NKG2D upon immune synapse (IS) formation. NKG2D and Ly49A signal integration and colocalization were studied using NKG2D-GFP and Ly49A-RFP-expressing primary NK cells, forming ISs with NIH3T3 target cells, with or without the expression of single-chain trimer (SCT) H2-Dd and an extended form of SCT H2-Dd-CD4 MHC-I molecules. Nanoscale colocalization was assessed by Förster resonance energy transfer between NKG2D-GFP and Ly49A-RFP and measured for each synapse. In the presence of their respective cognate ligands, NKG2D and Ly49A colocalize at the nanometer scale, leading to NK cell inhibition. However, increasing the size of the Ly49A ligand reduced the nanoscale colocalization with NKG2D, consequently impairing Ly49A-mediated inhibition. Thus, our data shows that NK cell signal integration is critically dependent on the dimensions of NK cell ligand-receptor pairs by affecting their relative nanometer-scale colocalization at the IS. Our results together suggest that the balance of NK cell signals and NK cell responses is determined by the relative nanoscale colocalization of activating and inhibitory receptors in the immune synapse. Copyright © 2022 Tomaz, Pereira, Guerra, Dyson, Gould and Henriques.


David Tomaz, Pedro Matos Pereira, Nadia Guerra, Julian Dyson, Keith Gould, Ricardo Henriques. Nanoscale Colocalization of NK Cell Activating and Inhibitory Receptors Controls Signal Integration. Frontiers in immunology. 2022;13:868496

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PMID: 35720315

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