CD8 T cells express randomly selected KIRs with distinct specificities compared with NK cells

Niklas K. Björkström, Vivien Béziat, Frank Cichocki, Lisa L. Liu, Jeffrey Levine, Stella Larsson, Richard A. Koup, Stephen K. Anderson, Hans Gustaf Ljunggren, Karl Johan Malmberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Epistatic interactions between killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs) and their cognate HLA class I ligands have important implications for reproductive success, antiviral immunity, susceptibility to autoimmune conditions and cancer, as well as for graft-versus-leukemia reactions in settings of allogeneic stem cell transplantation. Although CD8 T cells are known to acquire KIRs when maturing from naive to terminally differentiated cells, little information is available about the constitution of KIR repertoires on human CD8 T cells. Here, we have performed a high-resolution analysis of KIR expression on CD8 T cells. The results show that most CD8 T cells possess a restricted KIR expression pattern, often dominated by a single activating or inhibitory KIR. Furthermore, the expression of KIR, and its modulation of CD8 T-cell function, was independent of expression of self-HLA class I ligands. Finally, despite similarities in the stochastic regulation of KIRs by the bidirectional proximal promoter, the specificity of inhibitory KIRs on CD8 T cells was often distinct from that of natural killer cells in the same individual. The results provide new insight into the formation of KIR repertoires on human T cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3455-3465
Number of pages11
Issue number17
StatePublished - Oct 25 2012


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