Natural killer (NK) cells are key components of the innate immune response and can mediate cellular cytotoxicity without previous antigen exposure. The mechanisms underlying NK cell activation have been uncovered in a stepwise fashion from the early 1980s (for a detailed review of the field and its development see (Lanier 2008)). The role of the CD16 FcγRIII cell surface receptor in antibody-dependent NK cell activation was described in 1983. In 1986, Karre and colleagues proposed the “missing self-hypothesis” hypothesis and demonstrated the presence of inhibitory NK cell surface receptors responsive to the self-MHC (major histocompatibility complex) molecules on normal host cells. The search for antibody-independent NK cell activating receptors led to the identification of the NKG2 family of NK cell receptors in 1991. Among these was NKG2D, a molecule that shared limited homology...
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