Immune Cell Killing

Natural killer cells and cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) perform complementary roles in immune responses directed against viruses and tumours. CTLs are antigen specific and recognize peptides derived from virus and tumour antigens presented by major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules. NK cells can recognize and kill cells that have down-regulated MHC class I molecules from their cell surface. The major cytotoxic proteins contained within secretory lysosomes in NK cells and CTLs are the granzymes and perforin. Target cell recognition induces secretory lysosome exocytosis and the release of the cytotoxic contents of this organelle. Perforin then facilitates the entry of the granzymes into the target cell cytoplasm, where they cleave a variety of targets, such as caspases, resulting in cell death (Topham and Hewitt, 2009).

Immune cell killing

Quantification of Caspase 3/7 activity in a co-culture model of K562 cells incubated with unstimulated/stimulated primary CD56+ NK cells (**p<0.01; ***p<0.001; n=3 ± SEM). Staurosporine was used as a positive control.

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