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Article
Nature Immunology 7, 507 - 516 (2006)
Published online: 16 April 2006; | doi:10.1038/ni1332

T cell– and B cell–independent adaptive immunity mediated by natural killer cells

Jacqueline G O'Leary1, 2, 3, Mahmoud Goodarzi1, 3, Danielle L Drayton1, 3 & Ulrich H von Andrian1

1  The CBR Institute for Biomedical Research and Department of Pathology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.

2  Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Gastrointestinal Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.

3  These authors contributed equally to this work.

Correspondence should be addressed to Ulrich H von Andrian uva@cbr.med.harvard.edu

It is commonly believed that only T lymphocytes and B lymphocytes expressing recombination-dependent antigen-specific receptors mediate contact hypersensitivity responses to haptens. Here we found that mice devoid of T cells and B cells demonstrated substantial contact hypersensitivity responses to 2,4-dinitrofluorobenzene and oxazolone. Those responses were adaptive in nature, as they persisted for at least 4 weeks and were elicited only by haptens to which mice were previously sensitized. No contact hypersensitivity was induced in mice lacking all lymphocytes, including natural killer cells. Contact hypersensitivity responses were acquired by such mice after adoptive transfer of natural killer cells from sensitized donors. Transferable hapten-specific memory resided in a Ly49C-I+ natural killer subpopulation localized specifically in donor livers. These observations indicate that natural killer cells can mediate long-lived, antigen-specific adaptive recall responses independent of B cells and T cells.

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Nature Immunology
ISSN: 1529-2908
EISSN: 1529-2916
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