Two families of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I‐specific receptors are found on natural killer (NK) cells: immunoglobulin‐like receptors and C‐type lectin receptors. In mice, the latter category is represented by the Ly49 family of receptors, whereas in humans, NK cells express the distantly related CD94, which forms MHC class I‐specific heterodimers with NKG2 family members. Humans also express the MHC class I‐specific p50/p58/p70 family of immunoglobulin‐like receptors, but these have not been identified in mice. Hence, there is no known instance of an MHC class I‐specific receptor that is expressed by both human and murine NK cells. Here we report the cloning of CD94 from the CB.17 and C57BL/6 strains of mice. Mouse CD94 is 54 % identical and 66 % similar to human CD94, and is also a member of the C‐type lectin superfamily. Mouse CD94 is expressed efficiently on the cell surface of cells transiently transfected with the corresponding cDNA, but surface CD94 was unable to mediate detectable binding to MHC class I‐expressing ConA blasts. Notably, mouse CD94, like human CD94, has a very short cytoplasmic tail, suggesting the existence of partner chains that may play a role in ligand binding and signaling. Like many other C‐type lectins expressed by NK cells, mouse CD94 maps to the NK complex on distal chromosome 6, synteneic to human CD94. We also demonstrate that mouse CD94 is highly expressed specifically by mouse NK cells, raising the possibility that mice, like humans, express multiple families of MHC class I‐specific receptors on their NK cells. Murine homologs of human NKG2 family members have not yet been identified, but we report here the existence of a murine NKG2D‐like sequence that also maps to the murine NK complex near CD94 and Ly49 family members.
R. Vance, Dawn M. Tanamachi, T. Hanke
European Journal of Immunology