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Neuss, Sebastian; Bartel, Yvonne; Born, Christina; Weil, Sandra; Koch, Joachim; Behrends, Christian; Hoffmeister, Meike and Steinle, Alexander (2018): Cellular Mechanisms Controlling Surfacing of AICL Glycoproteins, Cognate Ligands of the Activating NK Receptor NKp80. In: Journal of Immunology, Vol. 201, No. 4: pp. 1275-1286

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AICL glycoproteins are cognate activation-induced ligands of the C-type lectin-like receptor NKp80, which is expressed on virtually all mature human NK cells, and NKp80-AICL interaction stimulates NK cell effector functions such as cytotoxicity and cytokine secretion. Notably, AICL and NKp80 are encoded by adjacent genes in the NK gene complex and are coexpressed by human NK cells. Whereas AICL is intracellularly retained in resting NK cells, exposure of NK cells to proinflammatory cytokines results in AICL surfacing and susceptibility to NKp80-mediated NK fratricide. In this study, we characterize molecular determinants of AICL glycoproteins that cause intracellular retention, thereby controlling AICL surface expression. Cys(87) residing within the C-type lectin-like domain not only ensures stable homodimerization of AICL glycoproteins by disulfide bonding, but Cys(87) is also required for efficient cell surface expression of AICL homodimers and essential for AICL-NKp80 interaction. In contrast, cytoplasmic lysines act as negative regulators targeting AICL for proteasomal degradation. One atypical and three conventional N-linked glycosylation sites in the AICL C-type lectin-like domain critically impact maturation and surfacing of AICL, which is strictly dependent on glycosylation of at least one conventional glycosylation site. However, although the extent of conventional N-linked glycosylation positively correlates with AICL surface expression, the atypical glycosylation site impairs AICL surfacing. Stringent control of AICL surface expression by glycosylation is reflected by the pronounced interaction of AICL with calnexin and the impaired AICL expression in calnexin-deficient cells. Collectively, our data demonstrate that AICL expression and surfacing are tightly controlled by several independent cellular posttranslational mechanisms.

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