NK cells lyse tumor cells and virally infected cells, but the molecular basis for this phenomenon has not been defined. A mAb specific for the rat cell surface molecule, NKR-P1, stimulates rat NK cell lytic activity and is reactive with all rat NK cells, suggesting that this molecule may play a significant role in NK cell function. We have previously described another NK cell-specific Ag, Ly-49, that belongs to a family of cross-hybridizing genes on distal mouse chromosome 6. The rat NKR-P1 Ag shares several features with the mouse Ly-49 Ag, including selective cell surface expression on NK cells, homology to the C-type lectins, expression as a type II integral membrane protein, and disulfide-linked homodimeric structure. To further examine the relationship of NKR-P1 to Ly-49, we have cloned the cDNA encoding a mouse homologue of NKR-P1 (mNKR-P1). The mouse and rat NKR-P1-deduced polypeptide sequences are highly conserved, suggesting a similar tertiary structure. By examination of DNA from informative recombinant inbred mice with Southern blot analysis, we have determined that mNKR-P1 is encoded by a distinct gene that is genetically linked to the Ly-49 locus, lying within 0.5 centi-Morgan (cM) of Ly-49. Although the deduced amino acid sequences for mNKR-P1 and Ly-49 reveal that these proteins are structurally similar, they are only 24% identical at the amino acid level and the cDNA sequences do not demonstrate significant nucleotide homology. Our studies suggest that we have identified a region on mouse chromosome 6 that includes distinct NK-specific genes that encode structurally related proteins (type II integral membrane proteins, C-type lectin supergene family) but which demonstrate considerable heterogeneity. We have termed this genetic region the NK complex.
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Journal of Immunology|
|State||Published - 1991|