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NKG2D is a type 2 transmembrane protein with an extracellular C-type lectin-like domain. It forms a homodimeric cell-surface receptor on immune cells. Murine NKG2D binds to a set of ligands that have sequence and structural similarity to class 1 major histocompatibility complex proteins. Binding of NKG2D to a ligand triggers a signaling cascade that promotes effector functions in the immune cell that expresses NKG2D. NKG2D does not signal directly, but exists in a complex with adaptor proteins that mediate signaling upon ligand binding. As NKG2D is expressed on cytotoxic cells including natural killer cells and CD8+ lymphocytes, this activation can promote the cytotoxic destruction of the cell expressing the ligand for NKG2D by the cell expressing NKG2D.

Original publication




Internet publication


Nature Publishing Group

Publication Date



NKG2D, immune receptors