After accumulation of target cell human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-C at inhibitory natural killer (NK) cell immune synapses, some HLA-C transfers from target cells to NK cell plasma membranes and cytoplasm. This unexpected intercellular transfer of HLA-C is dependent on NK receptor recognition, since HLA-Cw6 or -Cw4 but not -Cw3 transfer to an NK transfectant expressing killer Ig-like receptor (KIR)2DL1. Strikingly, live-cell time-lapse laser scanning confocal microscopy shows vesicles containing target cell green fluorescent protein–tagged HLA-C migrating away from immune synapses into NK cells. Unlike clustering of HLA-C at the immune synapse, intercellular transfer of HLA-C is dependent on NK cell ATP, but not target cell ATP. However, the intercellular transfer of HLA-C is not dependent on active polymerization of the actin cytoskeleton. In addition, different arrangements of HLA-C are seen at inhibitory NK immune synapses, and these alter as NK synapses mature, but in a fashion distinct from that seen upon T cell activation
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