Antibody Fc-dependent functions are linked to prevention and control of HIV-1 infection. Basic NK cell biology is likely key to understanding the contributions that anti-HIV-1 antibody-dependent NK cell activation and cytolysis make to HIV-1 susceptibility and disease progression. The importance of NK cell education through inhibitory receptors specific for self-HLA-I in determining the potency of anti-HIV-1 antibody-mediated NK cell activation and cytolysis is controversial. To address this issue more definitively, we utilized HLA-I genotyping, flow cytometry staining panels, and cytolysis assays to assess the functionality of educated and noneducated peripheral blood NK cells. We now demonstrate that educated NK cells are superior in terms of their capacity to become activated and/or mediate cytolysis following anti-HIV-1 antibody-dependent stimulation. The profiles of activation observed were similar to those observed upon direct stimulation of NK cells with target cells devoid of HLA-I. Noneducated NK cells make significantly lower contributions to total NK cell activation than would be expected from their frequency within the total NK cell population (i.e., they are hypofunctional), and educated NK cells make contributions similar to or higher than their frequency in the total NK cell population. Finally, NK cells educated through at least one killer immunoglobulin-like receptor and NKG2A exhibited the most significant difference between actual and expected contributions to the total NK cell response, based on their frequency within the total NK cell population, suggesting that summation of NK cell education through inhibitory receptors determines overall NK cell functionality. These observations have potential implications for understanding HIV-1 vaccine efficacy and disease progression.
- Human immunodeficiency virus
- Natural killer cells