The unsuspected diversity of killer cells in our immune system revealed.
A major discovery has been made at the Centre d'Immunologie de Marseille Luminy, CNRS, Inserm Aix Marseille Université, in Professor Eric Vivier's team, which has just been published in the internationally renowned journal Nature Immunology. The objective of this project is to propose a mapping of a type of white blood cells that play a crucial role in our immune system, Natural Killer (NK) cells. This study, conducted on patient samples, is essential for both fundamental research and clinical applications. This project is an exceptional collaboration between twenty major laboratories in the field. They are working together to map the characteristics of NK cells using advanced protein and gene data. They studied over 200,000 NK cells from 718 donor patients. This includes blood samples from healthy individuals and three different healthy tissues (tonsils, lungs, and intestine), as well as cancerous tissues and blood from patients with 22 types of cancer. Their research has identified three major types of NK cells, called NK1, NK2, and NK3. Each type has specific molecular characteristics and biological functions. These findings show that NK cells vary greatly depending on tissues and diseases. This helps to better understand their role in the immune system and tumor response. These studies have also contributed to identifying 2 distinct developmental pathways of NK subpopulations, a question that had remained a mystery for years. To make this data accessible, they have developed a simple and reliable classification system, available on a web portal. This will help researchers and doctors accurately identify NK cells in various biological samples.
Rebuffet L et al, Nature Immunology 2024: