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posted on 29.04.2021, 05:17 authored by Yorleny Vicioso, Derek P. Wong, Nand K. Roy, Nayanika Das, Keman Zhang, Parameswaran Ramakrishnan, Reshmi Parameswaran

Natural Killer (NK) cells are cytotoxic lymphocytes critical to the innate immune system. We found that germline deficiency of NF-κB c-Rel results in a marked decrease in cytotoxic function of NK cells, both in vitro and in vivo, with no significant differences in the stages of NK cell development. We found that c-Rel binds to the promoters of perforin and granzyme B, two key proteins required for NK cytotoxicity, and controls their expression. We generated a NK cell specific c-Rel conditional knockout to study NK cell intrinsic role of c- Rel and found that both global and conditional c-Rel deficiency leads to decreased perforin and granzyme B expression and thereby cytotoxic function. We also confirmed the role of c-Rel in perforin and granzyme B expression in human NK cells. c-Rel reconstitution rescued perforin and granzyme B expressions in c-Rel deficient NK cells and restored their cytotoxic function. Our results show a previously unknown role of c-Rel in transcriptional regulation of perforin and granzyme B expressions and control of NK cell cytotoxic function.

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