NK-cell function is regulated by the integration of signals received from activating and inhibitory receptors. Here we show that a novel immune receptor, T-cell Ig and mucin-containing domain-3 (Tim-3), is expressed on resting human NK cells and is up-regulated on activation. The NK92 NK-cell line engineered to overexpress Tim-3 showed a marked increase in IFN-γ production in the presence of soluble rhGal-9 or Raji tumor cells engineered to express Gal-9. The Tim-3+ population of low-dose IL-12/IL-18 - activated primary NK cells significantly increased IFN-γ production in response to soluble rhGal-9, Gal-9 presented by cell lines, and primary acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) targets that endogenously express Gal-9. This effect is highly specific as Tim-3 Ab blockade significantly decreased IFN-γ production, and Tim-3 cross-linking induced ERK activation and degradation of IκBα. Exposure to Gal-9-expressing target cells had little effect on CD107a degranulation. Reconstituted NK cells obtained from patients after hematopoietic cell transplantation had diminished expression of Tim-3 compared with paired donors. This observation correlates with the known IFN-γ defect seen early posttransplantation. In conclusion, we show that Tim-3 functions as a human NK-cell coreceptor to enhance IFN-γ production, which has important implications for control of infectious disease and cancer.
Copyright 2013 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.