Group 1 innate lymphoid cells (ILCs), comprising ILC1s and natural killer cells (NK cells), belong to a large family of developmentally related innate lymphoid cells that lack rearranged antigen-specific receptors. NK cells and ILC1s both require the transcription factor T-bet for lineage commitment but additionally rely on Eomes and Hobit, respectively, for their development and effector maturation programs. Both ILC1s and NK cells are essential for rapid responses against infections and mediate cancer immunity through production of effector cytokines and cytotoxicity mediators. ILC1s are enriched in tissues and hence generally considered tissue resident cells whereas NK cells are often considered circulatory. Despite being deemed different cell types, ILC1s and NK cells share many common features both phenotypically and functionally. Recent studies employing single cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) technology have exposed previously unappreciated heterogeneity in group 1 ILCs and further broaden our understanding of these cells. Findings from these studies imply that ILC1s in different tissues and organs share a common signature but exhibit some unique characteristics, possibly stemming from tissue imprinting. Also, data from recent fate mapping studies employing Hobit, RORγt, and polychromic reporter mice have greatly advanced our understanding of the developmental and effector maturation programs of these cells. In this review, we aim to outline the fundamental traits of mouse group 1 ILCs and explore recent discoveries related to their developmental programs, phenotypic heterogeneity, plasticity, and transcriptional regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-117
Number of pages11
JournalImmunological Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2024


  • ILC development
  • ILC1s
  • NK cells
  • heterogeneity
  • innate lymphoid cells
  • plasticity
  • transcription factors


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