Direct evidence to support the role of HLA-G in protecting the fetus from maternal uterine natural killer cytolysis

N Rouas-Freiss, R M Gonçalves, C Menier, J Dausset, E D Carosella
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 1997 October 14, 94 (21): 11520-5
HLA-G is a nonclassical major histocompatibility complex class I molecule selectively expressed on cytotrophoblasts at the feto-maternal interface, where it may play an important role in maternal tolerance of the fetus. We provide direct evidence under physiological conditions that supports the role of HLA-G in protecting cytotrophoblasts against natural killer (NK) cytolysis in 6 semiallogenic combinations of maternal uterine NK cells and their own trophoblast counterparts, as well as in 20 allogenic combinations of maternal uterine NK cells and trophoblasts from different mothers. We show that, in all cases studied, this HLA-G-mediated protection was abolished by treatment of cytotrophoblasts with an HLA-G-specific mAb. The HLA class I-negative K562 cell line transfected with the predominant HLA-G1 isoform results in similar protection and abolition from maternal uterine NK lysis. Because maternal uterine NK cells express killer inhibitory receptors for HLA-G, we conclude that their interactions contribute to the survival of the fetal semiallograft by confering immunological tolerance to its tissues.

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