Occurrence and a Possible Mechanism of Penetration of Natural Killer Cells Into K562 Target Cells During the Cytotoxic Interaction

Katarina Radosevic, Gezina M.J. Segers-Nolten, Anne Marie T. van Leeuwen, Carl Figdor, B.G. de Grooth, Jan Greve, K. Radosevic

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The cytotoxic interaction between cloned human Natural Killer (NK) cells and K562 target cells was studied using confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) and conventional fluorescence microscopy. We observed, using fixed as well as living cells, the occurrence of (pseudo)emperipolesis during the interaction. About 30% of conjugated NK cells penetrated, partly or completely, into the target cells (in-conjugation). Virtually all in-conjugated target cells exhibited polymerized actin. Killer cells of in-conjugates were frequently seen approaching the target cell nucleus or aligning along it. If the cytotoxic process was inhibited by the absence of calcium neither actin polymerization nor in-conjugation were observed. A kinetic study showed that in-conjugation starts somewhat later than actin polymerization but still within a few minutes after addition of calcium to conjugates previously formed in the absence of calcium. The presence of cytochalasin D (an inhibitor of actin polymerization) completely inhibited in-conjugation and partly reduced the cytotoxic activity. Zinc ions (endonuclease inhibition) inhibited in-conjugation and decreased the total number of target cells with polymerized actin in a concentration dependent manner. Cytotoxic activity was also reduced but not as efficiently as in-conjugation. Our study demonstrates that in-conjugation represents a significant fraction of the cytotoxic interaction. The results indicate that it may be a consequence of an actin polymerization and endonuclease activity dependent part of a cytotoxic mechanism.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)273-280
Number of pages8
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 1995


  • Natural Killer cell
  • actin polymerization
  • IR-60720
  • endonuclease activity
  • METIS-129718
  • emperipolesis

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