Conclusions

NK cells use a variety of signaling pathways to make changes in their composition that support the killing of target cells and the release of cytokines. The variety of receptors and signaling pathways available to the NK cell provides a finely controlled response to a wide variety of target cells. The ability of an NK cell to survey the body on a cell-by-cell basis and carry out or induce killing on the basis of a balance of positive and negative signals provides a very powerful and sensitive monitoring tool for the immune system. Although the pathways involved in NK cell activation and apoptosis are still being explored, their importance in immune activation and regulation is already clear.

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