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Internalization of NK cells into tumor cells requires ezrin and leads to programmed cell-in-cell death.

Authors
  • Wang, Shan
  • Guo, Zhen
  • Xia, Peng
  • Liu, Tingting
  • Wang, Jufang
  • Li, Shan
  • Sun, Lihua
  • Lu, Jianxin
  • Wen, Qian
  • Zhou, Mingqian
  • Ma, Li
  • Ding, Xia
  • Wang, Xiaoning
  • Yao, Xuebiao
Type
Published Article
Journal
Cell Research
Publisher
Springer Nature
Publication Date
Dec 01, 2009
Volume
19
Issue
12
Pages
1350–1362
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1038/cr.2009.114
PMID: 19786985
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Cytotoxic lymphocytes are key players in the orchestration of immune response and elimination of defective cells. We have previously reported that natural killer (NK) cells enter target tumor cells, leading to either target cell death or self-destruction within tumor cells. However, it has remained elusive as to the fate of NK cells after internalization and whether the heterotypic cell-in-cell process is different from that of the homotypic cell-in-cell event recently named entosis. Here, we show that NK cells undergo a cell-in-cell process with the ultimate fate of apoptosis within tumor cells and reveal that the internalization process requires the actin cytoskeletal regulator, ezrin. To visualize how NK cells enter into tumor cells, we carried out real-time dual color imaging analyses of NK cell internalization into tumor cells. Surprisingly, most NK cells commit to programmed cell death after their entry into tumor cells, which is distinctively different from entosis observed in the homotypic cell-in-cell process. The apoptotic cell death of the internalized NK cells was evident by activation of caspase 3 and DNA fragmentation. Furthermore, NK cell death after internalization is attenuated by the caspase inhibitor, Z-VAD-FMK, confirming apoptosis as the mode of NK cell death within tumor cells. To determine protein factors essential for the entry of NK cells into tumor cells, we carried out siRNA-based knockdown analysis and discovered a critical role of ezrin in NK cell internalization. Importantly, PKA-mediated phosphorylation of ezrin promotes the NK cell internalization process. Our findings suggest a novel regulatory mechanism by which ezrin governs NK cell internalization into tumor cells.

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