Innate Immunity and Tumor Cell Recognition

Innate Immunity and Tumor Cell Recognition

Natural killer cells (NK), NK-T cells and gamma/delta T cells protect against certain tumors by the direct recognition and elimination of tumor cells and the activation of adaptive immune cells. The activation of innate immune cells recognizing “self-ligands“ induced on tumor cells by transformation and viral infection has the potential to break immunological tolerance to tumors. Our ongoing research is focused on evaluating the role of activating receptors including the lectin-type receptor NKG2D in anti-tumor immunity. We demonstrated that retinoic acid inducible genes-1 (RAE-1) are ligands for NKG2D in mice. Ectopic expression of RAE-1 on tumor cells, which do not express endogenous NKG2D-ligands, leads to tumor rejection in vivo. Currently, we study the regulation and modulation of NKG2D ligands during development, malignant transformation and viral infection using transgenic mouse lines. A better understanding of the expression and modulation of oncofetal ligands for activating innate immune receptors has the potential to help to design innovative therapies for the fight against malignant disease.

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