KIR polymorphisms modulate peptide-dependent binding to an MHC class I ligand with a Bw6 motif

Arnaud D. Colantonio, Benjamin N. Bimber, William J. Neidermyer, R. Keith Reeves, Galit Alter, Marcus Altfeld, R. Paul Johnson, Mary Carrington, David H. O'Connor, David T. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Molecular interactions between killer immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs) and their MHC class I ligands play a central role in the regulation of natural killer (NK) cell responses to viral pathogens and tumors. Here we identify Mamu-A1*00201 (Mamu-A*02), a common MHC class I molecule in the rhesus macaque with a canonical Bw6 motif, as a ligand for Mamu-KIR3DL05. Mamu-A1*00201 tetramers folded with certain SIV peptides, but not others, directly stained primary NK cells and Jurkat cells expressing multiple allotypes of Mamu-KIR3DL05. Differences in binding avidity were associated with polymorphisms in the D0 and D1 domains of Mamu-KIR3DL05, whereas differences in peptide-selectivity mapped to the D1 domain. The reciprocal exchange of the third predicted MHC class I-contact loop of the D1 domain switched the specificity of two Mamu-KIR3DL05 allotypes for different Mamu-A1*00201-peptide complexes. Consistent with the function of an inhibitory KIR, incubation of lymphocytes from Mamu-KIR3DL05+ macaques with target cells expressing Mamu-A1*00201 suppressed the degranulation of tetramer-positive NK cells. These observations reveal a previously unappreciated role for D1 polymorphisms in determining the selectivity of KIRs for MHC class I-bound peptides, and identify the first functional KIR-MHC class I interaction in the rhesus macaque. The modulation of KIR-MHC class I interactions by viral peptides has important implications to pathogenesis, since it suggests that the immunodeficiency viruses, and potentially other types of viruses and tumors, may acquire changes in epitopes that increase the affinity of certain MHC class I ligands for inhibitory KIRs to prevent the activation of specific NK cell subsets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1001316
JournalPLoS pathogens
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Virology


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