Cronk, John “Jack” (Brown)
Natural killer (NK) cells are an essential component of the immune system, as NK cell deficient patients are prone to recurrent infections, cancer, and often die at an early age. NK cells express many diverse cell surface activating and inhibitory receptors which regulate their activity. Intriguingly, polymorphisms in NK cell receptors and their self-MHC I ligands affect NK cell functionality and disease resistance. Our data demonstrate a profound role for MHC I-dependent inhibitory receptor alleles in promoting host survival and NK cell effector functions. My research will characterize the molecular mechanisms by which inhibitory receptors endow NK cells with enhanced ability to control virus infection.