Mammalian natural killer (NK) cells are cytotoxic lymphocytes that express receptors specific for MHC class I molecules. The NK cell receptors belong to two structurally unrelated families, the killer cell Ig-like receptors and the killer cell C-type lectin receptors. We describe a cDNA clone derived from the bony (cichlid) fish Paralabidochromis chilotes and show that it encodes a protein related to the CD94/NK cell group 2 (NKG2) subfamily of the killer cell C-type lectin receptors. The gene encoding this receptor in a related species, Oreochromis niloticus, has a similar structure to the human CD94/NKG2 genes and is a member of a multigene cluster that resembles the mammalian NK cell gene complex. Thus, the CD94/NKG2 subfamily of NK cell receptors must have arisen before the divergence of fish and tetrapods and may have retained its function (possibly monitoring the expression of MHC class I molecules) for >400 million years.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Jun 24 2003|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes