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A Balance between Positive and Negative Signals in Cytotoxic Lymphocytes Regulates the Polarization of Lipid Rafts during the Development of Cell-Mediated Killing

Journal of Experimental Medicine
The Rockefeller University Press
Publication Date
  • Original Article
  • Biology


Plasma membrane microdomains containing sphingolipids and cholesterol (lipid rafts) are enriched in signaling molecules. The cross-linking of certain types of cell surface receptors initiates the redistribution of these lipid rafts, resulting in the formation of signaling complexes. However, little is known about the regulation of the initial raft redistribution and whether negative regulatory signaling pathways target this phase of cellular activation. We used natural killer (NK) cells as a model to investigate the regulation of raft redistribution, as both positive and negative signals have been implicated in the development of their cellular function. Here we show that after NK cells form conjugates with sensitive tumor cells, rafts become polarized to the site of target recognition. This redistribution of lipid rafts requires the activation of both Src and Syk family protein tyrosine kinases. In contrast, engagement of major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-recognizing killer cell inhibitory receptors (KIRs) on NK cells by resistant, MHC-bearing tumor targets blocks raft redistribution. This inhibition is dependent on the catalytic activity of KIR-associated SHP-1, a Src homology 2 (SH2) domain containing tyrosine phosphatase. These results suggest that the influence of integrated positive and negative signals on raft redistribution critically influences the development of cell-mediated cytotoxicity.

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