Mouse natural killer (NK) cells express the nerve growth factor receptor TrkA, which is dynamically regulated.
- Platform National Cytometry
BACKGROUND: Nerve growth factor (NGF) is a neurotrophin crucial for the development and survival of neurons. It also acts on cells of the immune system which express the NGF receptors TrkA and p75(NTR) and can be produced by them. However, mouse NK cells have not yet been studied in this context. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We used cell culture, flow cytometry, confocal microscopy and ELISA assays to investigate the expression of NGF receptors by NK cells and their secretion of NGF. We show that resting NK cells express TrkA and that the expression is different on NK cell subpopulations defined by the relative presence of CD27 and CD11b. Expression of TrkA is dramatically increased in IL-2-activated NK cells. The p75(NTR) is expressed only on a very low percentage of NK cells. Functionally, NGF moderately inhibits NK cell degranulation, but does not influence proliferation or cytokine production. NK cells do not produce NGF. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: We demonstrate for the first time that mouse NK cells express the NGF receptor TrkA and that this expression is dynamically regulated.