The utility of antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) for eliminating HIV-1-infected cells is of much interest for the design of both prophylactic vaccines for HIV-1 prevention and therapeutics to eliminate latently infected cells following reactivation. Significant research has been conducted to understand the antibody specificities involved in anti-HIV-1 ADCC responses. Perhaps equally important as the identity of the antibodies mediating these responses are factors regulating the ability of ADCC effector cells, in particular natural killer (NK) cells, to respond to antibody-coated target cells. Indeed, a plethora of activating and inhibitory receptors expressed on the surface of NK cells might act in conjunction with CD16 to influence ADCC. As the expression of NKG2D and its ligands has been linked to HIV-1 disease progression, we evaluated if signals through NKG2D were involved in anti-HIV-1 ADCC. Utilizing assays measuring cytolysis, we provide the first data implicating NKG2D in antibody-dependent NK cell responses against a target cell line either pulsed with gp120 or infected with HIV-1. These observations are highly significant for understanding antibody-dependent NK cell responses against HIV-1, and might be useful for optimizing prophylactics and therapeutics aiming to utilize antibodies and optimally functional NK cells to control HIV-1.
NKG2D acts as a co-receptor for natural killer cell-mediated anti-HIV-1 antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity.