Nature Reviews Immunology 3, 304-316 (April 2003) | doi:10.1038/nri1055

Immune functions encoded by the natural killer gene complex

Wayne M. Yokoyama1 & Beatrice F. M. Plougastel1  About the authors


There has been marked progress in our understanding of the role of natural killer (NK) cells in immune responses, mainly due to the identification of NK-cell receptors and their ligands. The genes encoding many NK-cell receptors are located in the NK-gene complex (NKC). Here, we review the properties of NKC-encoded receptors, and provide a genomic and conceptual framework for an insight into NK-cell function and biology.

Author affiliations

  1. Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Rheumatology Division, Department of Medicine, Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, Box 8045, 660 South Euclid Avenue, St Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.

Correspondence to: Wayne M. Yokoyama1 Email:

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