Natural killer (NK) cells play a key role in antiviral immunity and tumor immunosurveillance. Their activity is tightly regulated to prevent host-damaging effects due to their strong autoimmune potential. We have recently shown that the development of functionally competent NK cells is dependent on interleukin 17 (IL-17), a cytokine which plays a well-known role in host defense at barrier tissues, but was so far not implicated in developmental aspects of the immune system or in NK cell biology in general. We found that the absence of IL-17 receptor signaling during NK cell development results in an impaired NK cells activity characterized by defective cytokine production and cytotoxicity. This project aims at dissecting the molecular basis for the IL-17-dependent regulation of NK cell function.
Funding: Fonds zur Förderung des akademischen Nachwuchses (FAN)
NK cell activity (IFN-γ production) determined by flow cytometry