Alternative Splice Transcripts for MHC Class I–like MICA Encode Novel NKG2D Ligands with Agonist or Antagonist Functions

Abstract : MHC class I chain–related proteins A and B (MICA and MICB) and UL16-binding proteins are ligands of the activating NKG2D receptor involved in cancer and immune surveillance of infection. Structurally, MICA/B proteins contain an α3 domain, whereas UL16-binding proteins do not. We identified novel alternative splice transcripts for MICA encoding five novel MICA isoforms: MICA-A, -B1, -B2, -C, and -D. Alternative splicing associates with MICA*015 and *017 and results from a point deletion (G) in the 59 splice donor site of MICA intron 4 leading to exon 3 and exon 4 skipping and/or deletions. These changes delete the a3 domain in all isoforms, and the α2 domain in the majority of isoforms (A, B1, C, and D). Endothelial and hematopoietic cells contained endogenous alternative splice transcripts and isoforms. MICA-B1, -B2, and -D bound NKG2D by surface plasmon resonance and were expressed at the cell surface. Functionally, MICA-B2 contains two extracellular domains (α1 and α2) and is a novel potent agonist ligand for NKG2D. We found that MICA-D is a new truncated form of MICA with weak affinity for NKG2D despite lacking α2 and α3 domains. MICA-D may functionally impair NKG2D activation by competing with full-length MICA or MICA-B2 for NKG2D engagement. Our study established NKG2D binding for recombinant MICA-B1 but found no function for this isoform. New truncated MICA isoforms exhibit a range of functions that may drive unexpected immune mechanisms and provide new tools for immunotherapy.
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Pierre-Jean Gavlovsky, Pierre Tonnerre, Nathalie Gérard, Steven Nedellec, Andrew Daman, et al.. Alternative Splice Transcripts for MHC Class I–like MICA Encode Novel NKG2D Ligands with Agonist or Antagonist Functions. Journal of Immunology, Publisher : Baltimore : Williams & Wilkins, c1950-. Latest Publisher : Bethesda, MD : American Association of Immunologists, 2016, 197 (3), pp.736-746. ⟨10.4049/jimmunol.1501416⟩. ⟨inserm-02150126⟩

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