The function of natural killer (NK) and myeloid cells depends on the balance of a number of activating and inhibitory receptors. Natural cytotoxicity receptors (NCR) are the major receptors responsible for NK cell-mediated lysis of tumor and viral-infected cells. In the past few years, we have characterized the structure and function of several inhibitory as well as activating NK cell receptors. These include the crystal structures of CD94, KIR2DL2 and its complex with HLA-Cw3, NKG2D and its complex with ULBP3, NKp46 and TREM-1. Despite the progress made in understanding the function of NK receptors in the past few years, the ligands recognized by NCR remain unknown. Our effort of understanding the function of NCR has led a structural solution for NKp30. The structure revealed striking resemblence between NKp30 and CTLA-4 family receptors and enabled us to propose a potential ligand binding site.
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