Murine trophoblast cells induce NK cell interferon-gamma production through KLRK1

Leonidas N. Carayannopoulos, Jennifer L. Barks, Wayne M. Yokoyama, Joan K. Riley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Murine models suggest that natural killer (NK) cells are important for normal implantation site development, in part, through the production of interferon gamma (IFNG). As KLRK1 (NKG2D) is expressed on human and murine uterine NK (uNK) cells, we examined the role of KLRK1 in the interaction between murine trophoblasts and NK cells. Flow cytometric analysis revealed that both murine trophoblast stem (TS) cells and differentiated trophoblast giant cells expressed the KLRK1 ligand retinoic acid early transcript 1, or RAET1. Coculture of activated NK cells with either TS cells or giant cells led to the production of IFNG, as measured by ELISA. In addition, coculture with TS cells led to the downregulation of KLRK1. Both responses were inhibited by soluble KLRK1 ligand, but not by irrelevant protein. Further studies demonstrated the presence of KLRK1 ligand on uterine cells derived from either virgin or pregnant mice, although uterine RAET1 protein expression was upregulated in vitro by progesterone, but not estradiol. We suggest that the interaction of KLRK1 and RAET1 may be involved in IFNG production by uNK cells, and thus, this receptor-ligand pair may contribute to successful murine implantation site development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)404-414
Number of pages11
JournalBiology of reproduction
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Immunology
  • KLRK1
  • Natural killer cells
  • Pregnancy
  • RAET1
  • Reproduction
  • Trophoblast
  • Uterus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Cell Biology


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