Since their initial characterization by Kiessling over 35 years ago, natural killer (NK) cells continue to constitute an area of intensive discovery in the immunology field. Although most of the research efforts concentrated on characterizing the role of NK cells in tumor prevention and fighting infection through the killing of dangerous cells, several recent findings highlight unexpected non-cytolytic functions of human and mouse NK cells. Such functions include promoting placental tissue development, antigen presentation and stimulation of T cells, priming of macrophages and dendritic cells, reducing transplant tissue rejection and several others.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
O.M. is supported by research grants from the Israel Cancer Research Foundation, The Israel Science Foundation, European Commission (QLK2-CT-2002–011112) and the Israeli Cancer Research Institute. J.H. is currently a Novartis Postdoctoral Scholar funded by the Helen Hay Whitney Foundation. We thank Sa’ar Mizrahi for helping with the preparation of the figures.