The existence and expansion of adaptive NK-cell subsets have been linked to HCMV infection. Phenotypically, a majority of adaptive NK cells expresses the activating receptor NKG2C and CD57. Some of the molecular factors driving the expansion of NKG2C+ CD57+ NK cells in HCMV infection have been identified. The direct interaction of adaptive NK cells with HCMV-infected cells, preceding the expansion, however, remains less studied. Recently, adaptive NK cells were reported to express higher levels of the co-activating receptor CD2. We explored whether CD2 was directly involved in the response of adaptive NK cells to HCMV. In a co-culture system of human PBMCs and productively infected fibroblasts, we observed an upregulation of CD69, CD25, and HLA-DR on all NK cells. However, only in adaptive NK cells was this increase largely blocked by antibodies against CD2 and CD58. Functionally, this blockade also resulted in diminished production of IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha by adaptive human NK cells in response to HCMV-infected cells. Our results demonstrate that binding of CD2 to upregulated CD58 on infected cells is a critical event for antibody-mediated activation and subsequent effector functions of adaptive NKG2C+ CD57+ NK cells during the antiviral response.
Type of Publication:
Journal article published