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Institute of Anatomy

"Resting natural killer cell homeostasis relies on tryptophan/NAD+ metabolism and HIF-1α"

Natural killer (NK) cells are lympohoid cells of the innate immune system. Through their cytotoxic effects, they are able to kill cells infected with viruses or other pathogens and even recognize malignant tumor cells. The mechanisms by which NK cells cope with different oxygen environments and adjust their metabolic status accordingly are not yet fully understood. The team around Prof. Christian Stockmann used in situ metabolomic and transcriptomic analyses in NK cells to study these processes. Their results show that the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1alpha regulates cell metabolism in both activated and resting NK cells, but trough two distinct pathways. While NK cell activation relies on HIF-1alpha-driven glycolysis,  cell homeostasis of resting NK cells depends on HIF-1alpha-driven tryptophan/NAD+ metabolism.

This work was published in collaboration with research units from the ETH Zurich, France, Germany and Austria.

You find the open access publication in EMBO reports.