Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Cancer Biology

Major Professor

William G. Kerr, Ph.D.


NK, CD244, NSC119910, PepChip, Cytotoxicity


The NK cell is a large granular lymphocyte that plays a key role in protecting the body against numerous pathogens including parasites, intracellular bacteria, viral infections, as well as showing anti-tumor activity and playing a role in the rejection of allogeneic BM. Unlike other lymphocytic cell types, that utilize rearranging receptors, NK cells are regulated by a complex array of germ line encoded activating and inhibitory receptors. NK cells are often described as a front line or rapid defense given their response to stimuli can be immediate, although they also maintain functions that extend their role well into the adaptive immune system. Inhibitory receptors that recognize MHC class I molecules regulate NK cell responses and self-tolerance. Recent evidence indicates self-ligands not present in the MHC locus can also modulate NK function. We previously demonstrated that the NK receptor repertoire is disrupted by SHIP-deficiency.

Here we show that an inhibitory receptor, 2B4, that recognizes an MHC-independent ligand is over expressed in NK cells of SHIP-/- mice at all stages of NK development and differentiation. Overexpression of 2B4 compromises key cytolytic NK functions, including killing of allogeneic, tumor and viral targets. These results demonstrate that in SHIP-/- NK cell 2B4 is the dominant inhibitory receptor. We then furthered this finding by examining the molecular basis of 2B4 dominance. We show that in SHIP-/- NK cells there is increased 2B4 expression as well as a strong bias towards the 2B4L isoform. We have also identified a greater than tenfold increase in SHP1 recruitment to 2B4.

Consistent with this SHP1 over recruitment,both a broad and a selective SHP1 inhibitor restore SHIP-/- NK killing of complex targets.Through this study we have identified the molecular mechanism of 2B4 receptor dominance as SHP1 over-recruitment.In addition we have utilized protein array technology to explore NK signaling through the determination of the NK kinome. To this end we have been able to identify multiple pathways that may mark crucial differences between the mature and immature NK cell.