The beige mutation in the mouse selectively impairs natural killer cell function


GERM LINE mutations affecting defined cell populations are often valuable tools in elucidating the function of these cells in complex biological systems such as tumour rejection. We report here that a mutant gene in the mouse called beige (bgJ), leads to a complete and selective impairment of naturally occurring killer lymphocytes, whereas all other forms of cell-mediated lysis are apparently normal. The defective gene product may lie within the lytic pathway subsequent to tumour cell contact. Because many cell types, including natural killer (NK) cells, T cells and macrophages, may be involved in tumour resistance in vivo1, these mice will provide a critical test of the hypothesis that it is NK cells which provide a first line of defence against neoplasia2. It is likely that this mutant will be invaluable for further investigations in tumour immunology just as the nude mouse has been indispensable in evaluating the role of thethymus in the development of the T-lymphoid system and the role of T cells in the rejection of tumours.

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RODER, J., DUWE, A. The beige mutation in the mouse selectively impairs natural killer cell function. Nature 278, 451–453 (1979).

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