Immunoregulatory and effector roles of natural killer subsets PROJECT SUMMARY We propose to build upon exciting preliminary data highlighting unique effects natural killer (NK) cell subsets on regulating T cell responses using preclinical models of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), viral resistance, and cancer. While NK cells have been delineated into various subsets, the role of these subpopulations in viral and cancer resistance is unclear. We have built on numerous reports indicating that licensing or arming of the subsets based on MHC recognition gives rise to the various immunoregulatory functions they can exert on immune responses. We have found licensed and unlicensed NK cells to differentially affect T cell immune responses during viral infection and cancer acting as ?helper? and suppressor? populations. This proposal will seek to delineate the mechanisms underlying these effects on each other and T cells, assess the impact of HSCT and the role of the subsets in the context of cytomegalovirus infection and finally to link several species with regard to a molecular signature correlating with the subset phenotypes.
Our first aim will build on this data and investigate the different mechanisms that NK cells can use to impact T cell responses during viral infection or cancer challenge.
The second aim will build on this concept of differential effects of NK subsets, but now examine how the immune environment established following HSCT can alter the effector roles observed as well impact T cell recovery.
The final aim will determine the impact CMV can have on NK subset reconstitution using both mouse and non-human primate models of autologous HSCT.
This aim will also assess the impact of CMV on potential graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) effects following HSCT. Importantly, throughout the three aims, we will molecularly compare licensed and unlicensed NK cell subsets from multiple species including mouse, human, and non-human primate to link the common attributes of the subsets.

Public Health Relevance

Immunoregulatory and effector roles of NK cell subsets Natural killer cells are important immune cells that are protective against cancer and viral infections. It has recently been emerging that natural killer cells are not a homogenous population, but have distinct subsets that fulfill different roles in immune responses. We aim to investigate the effect of natural killer cells on the adaptive immune response. We also aim to investigate the impact of hematopoietic stem cell transplant, a treatment for cancer and genetic disorders, on natural killer subsets. Additionally, we will study this in the context of herpes virus infection, a common cause of morbidity and mortality following hematopoietic stem cell transplant.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Research Project (R01)
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Welniak, Lisbeth A
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University of California Davis
Schools of Medicine
United States
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