The cytotoxicity of human natural killer (NK) cells is modulated by the major histocompatibility complex human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-C molecules on the surface of the target cell. Alloreactive NK cells specific for the NK-1 alloantigen could be reproducibly generated from individuals that were homozygous for HLA-C with asparagine at residue 77 and lysine at residue 80 [HLA-C(Asn77, Lys80)] by stimulation with target cells that were homozygous for HLA-C(Ser77, Asn80); the reciprocal stimulation yielded NK cells specific for the NK-2 alloantigen. However, neither homozygous target cell stimulated the generation of alloreactive NK cells from heterozygous individuals. Thus, these data reveal an unanticipated difference between human NK alloreactivity defined by this system and murine "hybrid resistance.".
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