Top NK Cell Biology Publications of 2023 – CHSI Research Recognized Internationally!

In concurrence with the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the Nature Killer (NK) cell, the journal Immunology and Cell Biology (ICB) has released its chosen list of the top five articles from 2023 which have “significantly advanced our understanding of NK cell behaviors and functions in viral infections and cancers”. ICB announces the top five publications in the field of NK biology, this year focusing on findings which leverage technological advances in genomics and proteomics, along with new inventions aimed at greatly enhancing NK cell expansion for therapeutic applications. We are proud to acknowledge that two publications from CHSI, both from within the Division of Innate and Comparative Immunology (DICI), made the top five!

Representative data figure from the DICI publications

The first, published in Science Immunology (Dec. 2023) and overseen directly by DICI Principal Investigators R. Keith Reeves, Ph.D. and Stephanie Jost, Ph.D., demonstrated for the first time the underlying mechanism for how antigen-specific human NK cell memory develops against HIV and influenza, reliant on the CD94/NKG2C receptor and major histocompatibility complex E (MHC-E), validated by single-cell cloning and identified biomarkers, suggesting therapeutic potential for vaccines or therapeutic interventions. The second was published in Nature Immunology (Nov. 2023) as part of an ongoing collaborative relationship between Dr. Reeves and the Pasteur Institute determined that replication-competent SARS-CoV-2 virus persists in bronchoalveolar lavage macrophages for over six (6) months post-infection, with interferon gamma (IFN-γ) hindering viral propagation and enhancing the expression of MHC-E on macrophages, potentially inhibiting NK cell-mediated killing; reduced virus persistence leads to adaptive NK cells evading MHC-E-dependent inhibition, highlighting an IFN-γ-mediated NK cell-macrophage interplay governing SARS-CoV-2 persistence. These two publications focused on fundamental sciences, with the findings presented within Science Immunology in particular changing the dogma of how NK cells are understood to recognize viral infections.

We at DICI and CHSI are honored to be recognized for our contributions to the field of NK cell biology, and hope that our better understanding of these mechanisms will lead us to uncover new and improved viral therapeutic methods.