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Natural Killer Cell Markers

Click on one of the ILC subsets shown in the buttons below to see the markers that are commonly used to identify each cell type.

Property title
Human
Human
Cell Surface Markers
Cell Surface Markers
CD3-
CD3-
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CD56/NCAM-1+
CD56/NCAM-1+
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CD94+
CD94+
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CD122/IL-2 R beta+
CD122/IL-2 R beta+
CD127/IL-7 R alpha-
CD127/IL-7 R alpha-
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Fc gamma RIII/CD16+/-
Fc gamma RIII/CD16+/-
KIR Family Receptors +
KIR Family Receptors +
NKG2A+
NKG2A+
NKG2D+
NKG2D+
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NKp30+
NKp30+
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NKp44+
NKp44+
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NKp46+
NKp46+
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NKp80+
NKp80+
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Mouse
Mouse
Cell Surface Markers
Cell Surface Markers
CD3-
CD3-
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CD11b/Integrin alpha M+
CD11b/Integrin alpha M+
CD27+
CD27+
CD122/IL-2 R beta+
CD122/IL-2 R beta+
CD127/IL-7 R alpha-
CD127/IL-7 R alpha-
CD161/NK1.1+
CD161/NK1.1+
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Integrin alpha 2/CD49b+
Integrin alpha 2/CD49b+
Ly49 Family Receptors+
Ly49 Family Receptors+
NKG2D+
NKG2D+
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NKp46+
NKp46+
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Secreted Factors
Secreted Factors
Granzyme B
Granzyme B
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IFN-gamma
IFN-gamma
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Perforin
Perforin
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Intracellular Markers
Intracellular Markers
T-bet+
T-bet+
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Eomes+
Eomes+
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Overview

Natural killer (NK) cells are innate lymphoid cells with both intrinsic cytotoxic potential and cytokine-producing capabilities that have been classified as group 1 ILCs. While NK cells share many features with ILC1s including expression of the transcription factor T-bet and activation-induced production of IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha, they also express the transcription factor, eomesodermin (Eomes), along with granzyme B and perforin, which ILC1s do not. Accordingly, NK cells have been suggested to be the innate counterpart of CD8+ T cells. In mice, NK cells are defined as CD3-NK1.1+ or CD3-NKp46+ cells that also typically express Integrin alpha 2/CD49b, Integrin alpha M/CD11b, CD27, T-bet, and Eomes, and lack expression of CD127/IL-7 R alpha. Three subsets of mouse NK cells have been characterized based on the differential expression of Integrin alpha M/CD11b and CD27. These include CD11dimCD27bright NK cells, CD11bbrightCD27dim NK cells, and CD11bbrightCD27bright NK cells. CD27dim NK cells have been found to have lower cytotoxic potential and produce lower levels of cytokines than CD27bright NK cells. In humans, NK cells are typically defined as CD3-CD56+ cells that are also CD7+CD127-NKp46+T-bet+Eomes+. Different subtypes of human NK cells have been identified that are either CD3-CD56dimCD16+ or CD3-CD56brightCD16-. The CD56dimCD16+ subset of NK cells is predominantly found in the blood and is highly cytotoxic, while the CD56brightCD16- subset is the main subtype found in the lymph nodes and has only weak cytotoxic potential. Some studies have suggested that CD56brightCD16- subset are immature precursors of mature CD56dimCD16+ NK cells. In addition to the markers which are commonly used to identify mouse and human NK cells by flow cytometry, NK cells also express multiple cell surface receptors that regulate their activation. These include the human killer immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs) and mouse Ly49 family receptors, CD94-NKG2 heterodimeric receptors, NKG2D, natural cytotoxicity receptors (NCRs).

Data Examples

Identification of Human Natural Killer Cells by Flow Cytometry

Detection of CD3- CD56+ CD16-/+ Human Blood Lymphocytes by Flow Cytometry. Human peripheral blood lymphocytes were stained with a PE-conjugated Mouse Anti-Human NCAM-1/CD56 Monoclonal Antibody (R&D Systems, Catalog # FAB2408P) and a Fluorescein-conjugated Mouse Anti-Human Fc gamma RIIIA/B/CD16 Monoclonal Antibody (R&D Systems, Catalog # FAB2546F). Cells were gated on CD3- lymphocytes.

R&D Systems KIR Antibodies Are Rigorously Tested for the Selection of Highly Specific Clones

Detection of CD56/NCAM-1+KIR+ Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells by Flow Cytometry. Human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were stained with an APC-conjugated Mouse Anti-Human NCAM-1/CD56 Monoclonal Antibody (R&D Systems, Catalog # FAB2408A) and a PE-conjugated Mouse Anti-Human KIR/CD158 Monoclonal Antibody (R&D Systems, Catalog # FAB1848P). The plot is gated on live lymphocytes.
Detection of CD56/NCAM-1+KIR2DL1/S5+ Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells by Flow Cytometry. Human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were stained with a PE-conjugated Mouse Anti-Human NCAM-1/CD56 Monoclonal Antibody (R&D Systems, Catalog # FAB2408P) and a Fluorescein-conjugated Mouse Anti-Human KIR2DL1/KIR2DS5 Monoclonal Antibody (R&D Systems, Catalog # FAB1844F). The plot is gated on live lymphocytes.
Detection of CD56/NCAM-1+KIR2DL3+ Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells by Flow Cytometry. Human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were stained with a PE-conjugated Mouse Anti-Human NCAM-1/CD56 Monoclonal Antibody (R&D Systems, Catalog # FAB2408P) and a Fluorescein-conjugated Mouse Anti-Human KIR2DL3/CD158b2 Monoclonal Antibody (R&D Systems, Catalog # FAB2014F). The plot is gated on live lymphocytes.
Detection of CD56/NCAM-1+KIR2DS4+ Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells by Flow Cytometry. Human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were stained with a APC-conjugated Mouse Anti-Human NCAM-1/CD56 Monoclonal Antibody (R&D Systems, Catalog # FAB2408A) and a PE-conjugated Mouse Anti-Human KIR2DS4/CD158i Monoclonal Antibody (R&D Systems, Catalog # FAB1847P). The plot is gated on live lymphocytes.
Detection of CD56/NCAM-1+KIR3DL1+ Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells by Flow Cytometry. Human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were stained with a APC-conjugated Mouse Anti-Human NCAM-1/CD56 Monoclonal Antibody (R&D Systems, Catalog # FAB2408A) and a Fluorescein-conjugated Mouse Anti-Human KIR3DL1 Monoclonal Antibody (R&D Systems, Catalog # FAB12251F). The plot is gated on live lymphocytes.
Detection of CD56/NCAM-1+KIR3DL2+ Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells by Flow Cytometry. Human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were stained with a APC-conjugated Mouse Anti-Human NCAM-1/CD56 Monoclonal Antibody (R&D Systems, Catalog # FAB2408A) and a PE-conjugated Mouse Anti-Human KIR3DL2/CD158k Monoclonal Antibody (R&D Systems, Catalog # FAB2878P). The plot is gated on live lymphocytes.

Identification of Mouse Natural Killer Cells by Flow Cytometry

Detection of CD3- NK1.1+ Mouse Splenocytes by Flow Cytometry. Mouse splenocytes were stained with an Alex Fluor® 594-conjugated Rat Anti-Mouse CD3 Monoclonal Antibody (R&D Systems, Catalog # FAB4841T) and an APC-conjugated Mouse Anti-Mouse NK1.1/CD161 Monoclonal Antibody (R&D Systems, Catalog # FAB8319A).
Detection of Integrin alpha 2/CD49b+ NK1.1+ Mouse Splenocytes by Flow Cytometry. Mouse splenocytes were stained with a PE-conjugated Rat Anti-Mouse Integrin alpha 2/CD49b Monoclonal Antibody (R&D Systems, Catalog # FAB1740P) and an APC-conjugated Mouse Anti-Mouse NK1.1/CD161 Monoclonal Antibody (R&D Systems, Catalog # FAB8319A).
Detection of NKp46+ NK1.1+ Mouse Splenocytes by Flow Cytometry. Mouse splenocytes were stained with an APC-conjugated Rat Anti-Mouse NKp46/NCR1 Monoclonal Antibody (R&D Systems, Catalog # FAB22252A) and a PE-conjugated Mouse Anti-Mouse NK1.1/CD161 Monoclonal Antibody (R&D Systems, Catalog # FAB8319P).