Natural killer (NK) cells can evoke potent anti-tumour activity. This function is largely mediated through a battery of specialised cell-surface receptors which probe the tissue microenvironment for changes in surface and secretory phenotypes that may alert to the presence of infection or malignancy. These receptors have the potential to arouse the robust cytotoxic and cytokine-secreting functions of NK cells and so must be tightly regulated to prevent autoimmunity. However, such functions also hold great promise for clinical intervention. In this review, we highlight some of the latest breakthroughs in fundamental NK cell receptor biology that have illuminated our understanding of the molecular strategies NK cells employ to perceive malignant cells from normal healthy cells. Moreover, we highlight how these sophisticated tumour recognition strategies are being harnessed for cancer immunotherapies in the clinic.
- NK cell