Thursday, November 13, 2008

Kill your ECTV!

It’s a mystery why mice resist the Ectromelia poxvirus (ECTV) better than humans resist smallpox, a similar infection. Previous studies demonstrated a role for natural killer (NK) cells in ECTV resistance. Fang and colleagues show here that in addition to 'opportunity', actual NK killing with perforin is essential to the resolution. Many T cells armed with IFN-g were also found in the spleens of infected mice, suggesting that NK cells involve T cells in the murderous conspiracy.

The proximal motive for NK action is NKG2D (AKA KLRK1), which can be triggered by viruses that increase MICA expression. NK cell depletion or NKG2D blockade, but not the depletion of T cells, stop virus clearance (Figure 4B shown). Fang makes a good case for poxvirus clearance triggered by NKG2D/KLRK1 on NK cells.

Fang M, Lanier LL, Sigal LJ. A role for NKG2D in NK cell-mediated resistance to poxvirus disease. PLoS Pathog. 2008 Feb 8;4(2):e30