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"Harpoon" model for cell-cell adhesion and recognition of target cells by the natural killer cells

"Harpoon" model for cell-cell adhesion and recognition of target cells by the natural killer cells

Journal of Theoretical Biology 180(4): 321-342

The mechanism of recognition by natural killer (NK) cells is still unknown. A dynamic model is formulated describing recognition of NK-sensitive target cells (TCs) by NK cells or NK-like cells. This model does not assume the presence of the specific NK-receptor(s) on the membrane of NK cells and corresponding specific ligands on the NK-sensitive TCs. We suggest: (1) the expression of various kinds of "non-NK receptors" and corresponding ligands (counter-receptors) on the plasma membrane of the same NK cell and, possibly, of TCs (e.g. LFA-1 and ICAM-1-ICAM3, CD2 and LFA-3; receptors for TNF and corresponding ligand etc.0; (2) the presence of multiple disorders in the organization of "extracellular matrix-surface membrane-submembrane cytoskeleton" assembly of the NK-sensitive TCs; (3) non-specific primary linking of NK cell with TCs, which induces a transfer of vesicles or membrane fragments from the NK surface to the target cell surface (and perhaps vice versa). These processes may also permit the transfer of many types of receptor and counter-receptor molecules from the surface of one conjugated cell to another by vesicles or membrane fragments. After transferral through the intercellular cleft, the free receptors and counter-receptors will be localized on both cell surfaces at the contact region between conjugated cells. By this model the NK cell can "harpoon" the TC and enhance the binding forces between cells up to the critical level and then switch on killing mechanisms for the TC. By means of this "harpoon" model of cell recognition, it seems possible to explain the nature of the wide polymorphism of TCs which are sensitive to the effect of NK and NK-like cells. A mathematical model of the NK cell cytotoxic reaction is described. The model describes many nonlinear peculiarities of the cytotoxic process and predicts some new phenomena. We suggest new approaches of manipulation of cell membranes which can transform NK-resistant target cells in NK sensitive cells and vice versa.

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Accession: 045002416

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 8776465

DOI: 10.1006/jtbi.1996.0106

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