Orderly and nonstochastic acquisition of CD94/NKG2 receptors by developing NK cells derived from embryonic stem cells in vitro.J Immunol. 2002 May 15; 168(10):4980-7.JI
In mice there are two families of MHC class I-specific receptors, namely the Ly49 and CD94/NKG2 receptors. The latter receptors recognize the nonclassical MHC class I Qa-1(b) and are thought to be responsible for the recognition of missing-self and the maintenance of self-tolerance of fetal and neonatal NK cells that do not express Ly49. Currently, how NK cells acquire individual CD94/NKG2 receptors during their development is not known. In this study, we have established a multistep culture method to induce differentiation of embryonic stem (ES) cells into the NK cell lineage and examined the acquisition of CD94/NKG2 by NK cells as they differentiate from ES cells in vitro. ES-derived NK (ES-NK) cells express NK cell-associated proteins and they kill certain tumor cell lines as well as MHC class I-deficient lymphoblasts. They express CD94/NKG2 heterodimers, but not Ly49 molecules, and their cytotoxicity is inhibited by Qa-1(b) on target cells. Using RT-PCR analysis, we also report that the acquisition of these individual receptor gene expressions during different stages of differentiation from ES cells to NK cells follows a predetermined order, with their order of acquisition being first CD94; subsequently NKG2D, NKG2A, and NKG2E; and finally, NKG2C. Single-cell RT-PCR showed coexpression of CD94 and NKG2 genes in most ES-NK cells, and flow cytometric analysis also detected CD94/NKG2 on most ES-NK cells, suggesting that the acquisition of these receptors by ES-NK cells in vitro is nonstochastic, orderly, and cumulative.