Natural Killer Cells

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This illustration was created for a feature article in the October 2011 issue of the Washington University in St. Louis Alumni Magazine article by Steve Kohler.

“Professor Wayne Yokoyama, MD, long intrigued by the function of natural killer (NK) cells, has shown that NK cells, using a “licensing strategy,” are vitally important elements of the immune system.

When an NK cell sees an MHC-1 molecule, it doesn’t note that there is a foreign peptide being displayed. Instead, its job is to patrol for self, and when it binds to MHC-1, the NK cell is shut off. Only when the self signal is insufficient is the NK cell released from its ‘off’ condition and freed to do its work,” Yokoyama explains. “That’s not the whole story, however, because NK cells also need to be activated.” (Illustration by Jennifer E. Fairman, CMI, FAMI)

Read the October 2011 Washington University in St. Louis Magazine article here: Rheumatologist Cracks Molecular Mystery.

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Posted on

February 21, 2019

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