Inhibition of human natural killer cell activity by a synthetic peptide homologous to a conserved region in the retroviral protein, p15E.
It has been shown previously that the retroviral envelope protein p15E suppresses certain monocyte and lymphocyte functions. In this paper, we describe the effects on natural killer (NK) activity of a synthetic peptide (CKS-17) with homology to a region of p15E conserved among numerous retroviruses. Enriched human NK cells were assayed against K562 tumor target cells in a 51Cr-release cytotoxicity assay. Pretreatment of NK cells with CKS-17 at concentrations as low as 1.5 microM, but not with equivalent concentrations of control materials, markedly and reproducibly suppressed NK lytic activity. Prior exposure of NK cells to interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha) at 1000 U/ml did not alter their sensitivity to CKS-17-induced inhibition. Pretreating NK cells with CKS-17 almost entirely diminished their responsiveness to IFN-alpha and IFN-gamma, but not to interleukin 2 (IL 2). Kinetics experiments demonstrated that CKS-17-mediated suppression of both endogenous and activated NK cells was reversible after 18 hr at 37 degrees C. Experiments designed to examine the CKS-17 mechanism of action revealed that the peptide bound to all Leu-11+ lymphocytes, as shown by two-color flow cytometry. CKS-17 did not, however, inhibit effector cell/target cell conjugate formation. These data suggest a new mechanism for immune suppression mediated by retroviruses; inhibition of NK function. They moreover imply that the CKS-17 peptide interferes with the lytic phase of NK cytolysis.
Harris, DT; Cianciolo, GJ; Snyderman, R; Argov, S; Koren, HS
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