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Innate lymphocytes—lineage, localization and timing of differentiation

Cellular & Molecular Immunology (2019) | Download Citation


Innate lymphocytes are a diverse population of cells that carry out specialized functions in steady-state homeostasis and during immune challenge. While circulating cytotoxic natural killer (NK) cells have been studied for decades, tissue-resident innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) have only been characterized and studied over the past few years. As ILCs have been largely viewed in the context of helper T-cell biology, models of ILC lineage and function have been founded within this perspective. Notably, tissue-resident innate lymphocytes with cytotoxic potential have been described in an array of tissues, yet whether they are derived from the NK or ILC lineage is only beginning to be elucidated. In this review, we aim to shed light on the identities of innate lymphocytes through the lenses of cell lineage, localization, and timing of differentiation.

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We thank Chun Chou, Briana Nixon, and Efstathios Stamatiades of the Li lab for helpful discussions and critical reading of the manuscript. Work in the Li laboratory was supported by NIAID (R01 CA198280–01 to M.O.L), HHMI (Faculty Scholar Award to M.O.L.), the Ludwig Center for Cancer Immunology (M.O.L.), and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Support Grant/Core Grant (P30 CA008748).

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  1. Immunology Program, Sloan Kettering Institute, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, 10065, USA

    • Emily R. Kansler
    •  & Ming O. Li
  2. Louis V. Gerstner Jr. Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, 10065, USA

    • Emily R. Kansler


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Correspondence to Ming O. Li.

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