The immunogenetics of natural killer cell alloreactivity

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    [Truncated abstract] Natural killer (NK) cell alloreactivity can be exploited in haploidentical haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) to improve graft survival, reduce graft versus host disease and decrease leukaemic relapse. NK cells lyse cells that have reduced expression of class I HLA molecules. In an allogeneic setting, donor NK cells may be activated by the absence of donor (self) class I HLA molecules on recipient cells; the absence of self-epitopes being detected by inhibitory KIR receptors on donor NK cells. The way in which genetic polymorphism of the receptors and ligands affects NK allorecognition of missing self, has not been fully elucidated. HLA-C molecules are divided into two groups, C1 and C2, with KIR2DL1 recognising cells expressing C2 and KIR2DL2 and KIR2DL3 recognising cells expressing C1. Donor NK cells expressing KIR2DL2 or KIR2DL3 can be alloreactive towards a recipient if they lack the C1 epitope and donor NK cells expressing KIR2DL1 can be alloreactive towards a recipient if they lack the C2 epitope. KIR3DL1 recognises the Bw4 epitope present on one-third of HLA-B alleles and certain HLA-A alleles. NK cells from donors expressing KIR3DL1 can be alloreactive towards recipients whose cells lack Bw4. Mismatches of KIR related HLA epitopes does not always results in NK alloreactivity. Therefore it is not possible to reliably predict NK alloreactivity based solely on the donor's HLA type and KIR repertoire and the recipient's HLA type. ... All Bw4-positive HLA-B alleles, with the exception of HLA-B*1301 and B*1302, protected targets from lysis. HLA-A*2402 and HLA-A*3201 unequivocally protected target cells from lysis whereas HLA-A*2501 and HLA-A*2301 provided only weak protection from lysis. KIR3DL1-dependent alloreactive NK clones were identified in donors whose only Bw4 positive allele was HLA-A*2402 but not in donors whose only Bw4 positive HLA allele was HLA-B*1301 or B*1302. Finally this thesis demonstrated that an activating KIR can control NK cell alloreactivity. Donors who are C2 negative and KIR2DS1 positive had NK cells that expressed the activating receptor KIR2DS1 and were capable of lysing cells expressing the C2 epitope. More so, KIR2DS1 dependent NK clones were shown to override inhibitory signals generated by NKG2A interacting with its ligand, HLA-E. The identification of these NK clones has important implications for haploidentical HSCT in that recipient expressing all three NK epitopes, C1, C2 and Bw4 were previously thought to be resistant to alloreactive NK cells controlled by inhibitory receptors. Such patients may be amenable to haploidentical HSCT from C2 negative, KIR2DS1 positive donors. These results will improve the ability to predict NK cell alloreactivity based on a donor's HLA type and KIR repertoire and the recipient?s HLA type.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2008

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