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Early and midgestational decidua of mice genetically ablated for expression of the natural killer (NK) cell natural cytotoxicity receptor (NCR; Ncr1Gfp/Gfp mice) shows restricted angiogenesis and atypically small uterine (u)NK cells. We hypothesized that NCR1 inactivation disturbs maturation and angiokine production by uterine natural killer (uNK) cells. Using histological and morphometric approaches, we observed that Ncr1Gfp/Gfp but not control C57BL/6 (B6) implantation sites sustain immature, non-granulated uNK cells into midpregnancy. Mouse uNK cells can be subclassified by their reactivity with Dolichos biflorus agglutinin (DBA) lectin; DBA+ uNK cells with greater Ncr1 expression were investigated. DBA+ uNK cells from Ncr1Gfp/Gfp mice show delayed maturation as indicated by shorter diameters and fewer cytoplasmic granules. Granules in mature Ncr1Gfp/Gfp uNK cells are ultrastructurally abnormal and abundance of granule-associated proteins (perforin, granzyme) and of cytoplasmic proteins (vascular endothelial growth factor; placental growth factor) differs from controls. Leukocyte-leukocyte conjugate formation in gestation day 6.5 and 8.5 intact Ncr1Gfp/Gfp decidua was less frequent than in B6; however, this difference involved leukocytes other than DBA+ uNK cells. These studies strongly support roles for NCR1 and its ligands in normal pregnancy promotion.

Original publication




Journal article


Mucosal Immunol

Publication Date





1122 - 1132


Animals, Antigens, Ly, Cell Differentiation, Cells, Cultured, Cytotoxicity, Immunologic, Decidua, Female, Killer Cells, Natural, Lymphokines, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Transgenic, Natural Cytotoxicity Triggering Receptor 1, Plant Lectins, Pregnancy, Uterus