NK cells are important for the clearance of tumors, parasites, and virus-infected cells. Thus, factors that control NK cell numbers and function are critical for the innate immune response. A subset of NK cells express the inhibitory killer cell lectin-like receptor G1 (KLRG1). In this study, we identify that KLRG1 expression is acquired during periods of NK cell division such as development and homeostatic proliferation. KLRG1(+) NK cells are mature in phenotype, and we show for the first time that these cells have a slower in vivo turnover rate, reduced proliferative response to IL-15, and poorer homeostatic expansion potential compared with mature NK cells lacking KLRG1. Transfer into lymphopenic recipients indicate that KLRG1(-) NK cells are precursors of KLRG1(+) NK cells and KLRG1 expression accumulates following cell division. Furthermore, KLRG1(+) NK cells represent a significantly greater proportion of NK cells in mice with enhanced NK cell numbers such as Cd45(-/-) mice. These data indicate that NK cells acquire KLRG1 on their surface during development, and this expression correlates with functional distinctions from other peripheral NK cells in vivo.
Huntington, N. D., Tabarias, H., Fairfax, K., Brady, J., Hayakawa, Y., Degli-Esposti, M., ... Nutt, S. L. (2007). NK cell maturation and peripheral homeostasis is associated with KLRG1 up-regulation. Journal of Immunology, 178(8), 4764-4770. https://doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.178.8.4764