Tethering of intercellular adhesion molecule on target cells is required for LFA-1-dependent NK cell adhesion and granule polarization.

Research paper by Catharina C CC Gross, Joseph A JA Brzostowski, Dongfang D Liu, Eric O EO Long

Indexed on: 03 Aug '10Published on: 03 Aug '10Published in: Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)


Alpha(L)beta(2) integrin (LFA-1) has an important role in the formation of T cell and NK cell cytotoxic immunological synapses and in target cell killing. Binding of LFA-1 to ICAM on target cells promotes not only adhesion but also polarization of cytolytic granules in NK cells. In this study, we tested whether LFA-1-dependent NK cell responses are regulated by the distribution and mobility of ICAM at the surface of target cells. We show that depolymerization of F-actin in NK-sensitive target cells abrogated LFA-1-dependent conjugate formation and granule polarization in primary NK cells. Degranulation, which is not controlled by LFA-1, was not impaired. Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching experiments and particle tracking by total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy revealed that ICAM-1 and ICAM-2 were distributed in largely immobile clusters. ICAM clusters were maintained and became highly mobile after actin depolymerization. Moreover, reducing ICAM-2 mobility on an NK-resistant target cell through expression of ezrin, an adaptor molecule that tethers proteins to the actin cytoskeleton, enhanced LFA-1-dependent adhesion and granule polarization. Finally, although NK cells kept moving over freely diffusible ICAM-1 on a lipid bilayer, they bound and spread over solid-phase ICAM-1. We conclude that tethering, rather than clustering of ICAM, promotes proper signaling by LFA-1 in NK cells. Our findings suggest that the lateral diffusion of integrin ligands on cells may be an important determinant of susceptibility to lysis by cytotoxic lymphocytes.