Welcome to John T. Vaage's group

NK Cell Research Group (NKRG)

J.T. Vaage
J.T. Vaage

NKRG focuses on the biology and recognition mechanisms of Natural Killer (NK) cells, which constitute an important part of our innate immune defense against neoplastic and virally infected cells, and react with normal allogeneic cells. One main focus is on the characterization of several families of lectin-like receptors on NK cells and their roles in immune responses against diseased cells:


  • the ligand-binding properties of the NKR-P1 receptors demonstrating phylogenetic and functional conservation in rodents (Kveberg, Eur.J.Immunol, 2009 and Immunogenetics 2011).
  • the exquisite MHC specificity of the orphan KLRH1 receptor (Daws, J. Immunol. 2012).
  • the MHC-binding repertoire of inhibitory and activating rat Ly49 receptors, which are functional homologues of KIR receptors in primates. Evidence for the existence of activating NK cell receptors for MHC class I molecules was first obtained in the rat model , these were later shown to be Ly49 receptors (Naper, J.Immunol. 2002,2005), which are able to induce dramatic NK cell expansions in vivo (Dai, manuscript in preparation) and recognize Listeria monocytogenes infected cells (Naper. J. Innate Immun. 2011 [review]).

In a related line of experiments, we study different subsets of NK cells and their unique functional characteristics (Kveberg, J.Immunol. 2006 and J. Leuk. Biol. 2010, Inngjerdingen, Tissue Antigens 2011 [review]). This includes a novel NK subset with an activated phenotype specifically enriched in gut-associated lymphoid organs (PP and mesenteric lymph nodes), liver and peripheral blood (Inngjerdingen, J.Immunol. 2012). Other projects include receptor-mediated signalling, effects of allogeneic stem cell transplantation on NK cell education and tolerance (Naper, International Immunology, 2010), and cellular therapy of Graft-versus-Host (GvH) disease (Zinöcker, Scand.J.Immunol. 2012 and Front.Immunol. 2012).

NKRG is embedded in an environment of clinical and experimental immunology and histocompatibility testing. The research is also performed in close collaboration with Prof. Bent Rolstad at the Department of Anatomy, whose laboratory is located at walking distance at the Gaustad campus. Marit Inngjerdingen recently received a career grant from the South-Eastern Regional Health Authority to establish an independent research line on the role of NK cells in the surveillance and control of acute leukemias.